TOTAL exports last year hit their highest level ever at 16pc above the pre-crisis high, Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton has said.
Mr Bruton said total exports were now at €182bn, after figures from the CSO showed a record trade surplus of €46bn.
The CSO's balance of international payments showed the State's current-account surplus was €8.1bn – up from €1.8bn the previous year. Services exports for the year reached €90.2bn, while exports in computer services hit €36.5bn.
Despite the positive figures, Mr Bruton said major challenges remain. Separate figures showed that net exports were little changed in quarter four compared with quarter three.
"I am convinced that with continued strong implementation we can help drive for the export-led jobs recovery we need," Mr Bruton said.
The minister said that taken together with goods exports and imports, the value of total exports from Ireland in 2012 was up 5.5pc from the year before.
The balance of payments is a record of a country's transactions, or trade, with the rest of the world and can boost international investors' perception of the country.
The latest data shows that merchandise exports decreased by €208m, while imports increased by just €39m due to increased computer services exports.
Service imports rose by €1.7bn due to increased royalties and licences and business- services imports.
Other key figures include:
lDirect investment abroad showed an increase of €3.8bn.
lInvestment income earned abroad decreased by €195m compared to a year earlier.
• Investment income payable to foreign investors fell by €1bn.