BRIC nations used as building blocks for export growth
SOME 40pc of Enterprise Ireland's overseas offices are now in the so-called BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China or the Asia Pacific region because of the significant potential for export growth.
Enterprise Ireland's outgoing chief executive Frank Ryan said the level of staff based in countries outstrips the current trade levels because of the growth potential.
He told the Oireachtas Jobs and Enterprise Committee that it had been an incredible coup to have China's then vice-president Xi Jinping visit Ireland last year.
The visit had given Ireland great exposure in the sprawling Asian country.
"That got Ireland known in China in a way that could not have been possibly imagined before," Mr Ryan said.
But he said that while there is significant potential, exporting to the BRIC nations was not for everyone.
He said it could take up to two years for a business to secure its first contract.
"Some countries would be more appealing than others.
"We have made very good progress in China, because of a sustained focus on China," he said.
But India had proved "challenging", although he said there had been a "breakthrough" in Indian students coming here to study.
He also said there continued to be considerable potential in markets closer to home, including France and Germany.
One of the first major trade missions next year is to be to the Middle East, taking in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.
Exports by companies supported by Enterprise Ireland hit a record €16.2bn last year, up €1bn compared with 2011.
The US and Canada, Latin America and the Asia Pacific regions accounted for the main increases.
Biggest winners were in the engineering, software, medical devices and internationally traded services sectors.
The biggest market was the UK, with €6.2bn in exports, followed by Northern Europe at €2.16m.
"Enterprise Ireland's clients account for over 300,000 direct and indirect jobs and spent €18.9bn in the Irish economy in 2012," Mr Ryan said.