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Exporters upbeat about 2014 expansion into new markets

SEVEN out of ten exporting companies will be targeting new markets next year, a survey has found.

And eight out of ten expect exports to increase in 2014, according to a new report from the Irish Exporters Association (IEA).

Expansion is planned across a wide range of countries, including China, Russia and Brazil.

Exporters operating in new markets last year reported a mixed experience, with 24.6pc reporting it as "good or better".

Philip Halpin, IEA economic adviser, said the 2013 survey was conducted against the backdrop of weak global economic activity and continued uncertainty.

"There is no doubt that 2014 will present further challenges for Irish exporting companies but growth is expected to pick up in our main export markets," Mr Halpin said.

"The findings of this review show that exporters remain upbeat and confident about their prospects.

"This is good news as economic recovery hinges critically on a strong export performance.

"Exports remain the engine of growth in the Irish economy."

The findings come as new data from Europe shows Ireland had the highest increase in industrial production in September. Ireland was up 2.9pc but overall industrial production slipped 0.5pc in Europe.

The Export Ireland survey and International Trade Finance Review 2013 was launched last night by Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Key findings include:

* 80pc of businesses expect exports to increase next year.

* 70pc targeting new markets.

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* 88pc plan new products and services over the next two years.

* 51pc of exporters have recruited new sales staff.

* 45pc expect to increase spending on research and development in 2014.

* 61pc see exporting as having helped them understand their home market more.

The report pointed out that one in four exporters experienced difficulties obtaining finance from their bank last year.

The reasons cited for the difficulties included failure on behalf of the banks to understand the exporters' business and being informally told that the lending application would not be accepted.

Almost 62pc reported that access to finance has not improved since last year, although this is an improvement on the figure reported in 2012.

IEA President Colin Lawlor said vigilance was required despite the improvement.

"We need to remain vigilant around our competitiveness, and access to finance remains an issue for many small businesses.

"We need to increase our efforts to encourage more Irish firms to export and to help them win business successfully overseas"

Interestingly, one in four companies are not aware of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which comes into effect on February 1 next.

SEPA is a European regulation designed to simplify financial transactions and make doing business easier.

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