Shipping and port demand was "relatively lacklustre" in Ireland last year with growth limited to a small number of commodities in the bulk market, according to an annual report from the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO).
The volume of cargo shipped though Ireland's ports increased slightly overall last year, with two of the five principle cargo segments experiencing growth.
IMDO director Glenn Murphy said that over the last decade Irish ports had handled just under half-a-billion tonnes of cargo.
The latest report shows that overall container traffic in Ireland fell 3pc to 775,000 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit – a standard industry measure) during 2012. Exports of containerised goods fell 2pc while imports fell 4pc despite the rate of decline easing to its lowest level since 2007.
But the report said that exports to some markets in Asia, Africa and South America continued to show some positive signs of growth last year.
"The UK, our largest trading partner, returned to recession during 2012, resulting in weaker demand for the main roll-on/roll-off operators serving these markets with total volumes falling by 2pc to 1.57 million freight units," according to the report.
"Direct traffic to continental Europe, a subset of this market, increased by 5pc."