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Irish firms face inflation, Brexit hurdles – Enterprise Ireland


Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy

Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy

Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy

Cost pressures, labour shortages, Covid and Brexit continue to weight on Irish firms, according to Enterprise Ireland chief executive Leo Clancy.

He told the Oireachtas joint committee on enterprise today that Ireland was “not alone” in dealing with business challenges, predicting that manufacturing and exports would continue to grow.

“There are also immediate concerns in the global and Irish economies, including inflation, skills availability, continuing uncertainty arising from Covid-19 and the changed trading relationship with the UK, all of which have the potential to impact on the competitiveness of the Irish enterprise base,” he said.

But he added there are “counterbalancing factors which mean Ireland is still competitive as a business location”.

Enterprise Ireland aims to create 45,000 new jobs in the next three years, and wants to boost Irish firms’ export value to €30bn.

Last year, total goods exports from Ireland reached a record €165bn on the back of pharmaceuticals, machinery and transport equipment sales.

Mr Clancy said that “a lot” of exports in the future would be digital and services-based but that he did “anticipate continued growth in manufacturing sector”.

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“For businesses to grow and thrive and prosper, they need to be export-oriented, I think, from the start. The focus on exports is right and proper. It has certainly led to increased prosperity.”

Enterprise Ireland is seeking to maintain Irish firms’ current export market share in Great Britain, which made up just over 30pc of total exports last year, down from close to 50pc a decade ago.

He pointed to ongoing Brexit “risk” but said most firms were prepared for new health and customs checks due to come into force in Britain from July, pending a deal on the Northern Ireland protocol.

“We are seeing some risk into the UK market. I don’t doubt that there may be some negative consequences yet to come from Brexit.

“There is still concern about how things may go, depending on the final shape of agreements.

He said he is “not hearing massive concern” from Enterprise Ireland companies about the phase-out of Covid supports and the impact that may have on firm viability.

“There will be companies that get into difficulty. The bigger concerns at the moment would be inflation and the cost of goods and the cost of shipping for companies. Those are the areas that are potentially driving difficulties, more so than market difficulties - because markets have reopened to large extent.”

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