Thursday 22 February 2018

Irish share of exports falls to just 2pc of all EU output

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

IRELAND'S share of European Union exports has shrunk by around a sixth, the European Commission has said.

Irish exports accounted for just 2pc of European Union exports last year, compared to 2.3pc in 2006, the commission added.

Ireland was one of just four countries to see its share of total European exports shrink in the five-year period. France, Italy and the United Kingdom were the others.

Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain have expanded their share over the same period.

While Irish exports are still rising, Ireland's share of the global export market is shrinking as the country is slower than rivals when it comes to attracting new foreign direct investment and Irish-based companies struggle to break into new markets.

Many Irish exports are made by pharmaceutical companies, which are reducing production as drugs go off patent.

Officials here rarely admit to concerns about exports because exports are seen as one of the few bright spots in the economy these days. Silence

Despite this silence, government ministers from Taoiseach Enda Kenny down are flying around the world to drum up business.

Mr Kenny leaves for the United States this evening to meet investors who might be interested in setting up manufacturing bases here.

Junior Trade Minister Joe Costello, Irish business leaders and the Irish Exporters' Association are also taking part in a trade mission to Brazil this week to drum up new business.

John Whelan, the head of the Irish Exporters' Association, complained yesterday that other countries were beating Ireland when it comes to establishing trade links with Brazil's rapidly expanding economy. Competition

"Competition is very strong from other member states such as Denmark, Finland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal, who have huge operations and networks of consulates to support their exporters," Mr Whelan said.

He called for greater government spending to help pay for organisations such as Enterprise Ireland which are helping exporters.

While Irish exports as a percentage of the EU total have fallen, EU exports have broadly held to a 20pc share of global exports when energy is excluded.

Eurostat also said yesterday that Ireland had made good progress in strengthening competitiveness but warned that it remained a problem.

It warned that Irish companies are not investing in new equipment, which is adding to the problem.

"The lack of domestic demand and lack of finance have lowered the level of investment in equipment, which remains under the EU average," the commission said in its report.

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