Business Irish

Monday 20 January 2020

UK remains dominant market for Irish exports


EI CEO Julie Sinnamon announces the results
EI CEO Julie Sinnamon announces the results
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The UK remains by far the most important export market for Irish-owned businesses, accounting for one euro in every three of sales by Enterprise Ireland-backed business.

Irish exporters' reliance on the UK fell last year, even with increased sales into the British market because growth there lagged the pace of expansion in other big markets including the eurozone.

Enterprise Ireland said yesterday that its client companies clocked up global exports of €23.8bn in 2018, a 6pc increase on 2017.

The construction sector recorded the fastest growth - up 22pc to just under €2bn - but the much bigger food sector recorded growth of just 1pc to €11.68bn.

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Exports to the UK were €7.9bn, sales to the eurozone were €4.8bn and sales to North America were €4.08bn.

The share of exports going to the UK has declined, but there is a big push to diversify further to cut reliance on the market there as a result of Brexit.

Under a hard Brexit some of the most important indigenous exporters, including the food and agricultural sectors, could face significant trade and tariff barriers.

The eurozone is a key focus of Enterprise Ireland's diversification strategy. Growth into markets there was 7.6pc last year and Germany, France and the Netherlands each exceeding €1bn in exports. Meanwhile, however, four out of 10 of a cohort of 2000 exporters surveyed by EI fear they've been negatively impacted due to Brexit - that number rose to 60pc in the food sector.

The survey found 40pc of companies expect profitability to be hit by Brexit this year and 29pc expect their ability to invest to be harmed.

Irish Independent

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