EXPORTS will top levels reached during the boom as we attempt to be the 'comeback economy' of western Europe, it was predicted yesterday.
Enterprise Ireland chief Frank Ryan said he expected exports this year to hit levels not seen since 2008, second only to Germany in the eurozone.
"Our annual survey of clients in 2010 shows that Ireland's indigenous exports reached approximately €13.85bn for 2010. This means Irish exporting companies regained 70pc of the exports that had been lost since the dawn of the global recession in 2008. I am confident that, given the indicators at the present time, by the end of 2011, our exports will be higher than they were pre-recession."
Despite the strong growth, however, exports may not increase enough to achieve IMF economic targets.
The IMF plan for Ireland reducing its debt-to-GDP ratio to 3pc by 2015 is predicated on a number of assumptions, including 10pc annual export growth over the next four years. But, according to lobby group the Irish Exporters' Association, exports will rise by 7.2pc this year.
Mr Ryan was speaking at the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Cork where Taoiseach Enda Kenny claimed Ireland could prove the "comeback economy" of Europe with the low corporation tax set to unlock multi-billion euro investment from the US.
Mr Kenny emphasised that Ireland will not alter its 12.5pc corporation tax rate and said major investments by US firms including Intel, Coca-Cola, Hewlett-Packard and Dell herald further multi-national projects for Ireland.
He added that tackling the deficit in the public finances will enhance Ireland's attractiveness to potential investors.
"From my two visits to the US, both to Washington and to New York, I am absolutely hopeful at the extent and enthusiasm for wanting to contribute to investment in Ireland," he said.
"Flexibility in our workforce continues to be a really key cornerstone for direct investment."