THE majority of Irish exporters have managed to grow their sales in overseas markets this year, new research has found.

And firms have begun using growth overseas to offset their reliance on a weak domestic economy.

Figures from the Irish Exporters Association (IEA) have revealed that 62pc of firms grew their exports in 2013, an improvement from 58pc last year.

The IEA Export Ireland survey also showed that the majority of exporters, at 95pc, reported that "sustainability of the business" was the primary non-financial benefit of exporting.

Around six out of 10 respondents reported that exporting also helped their understanding of the domestic market.

The report was launched by Finance Minister Michael Noonan and completed in association with consultancy firm Grant Thornton.

Colin Lawlor, president of the IEA, said that one of the things Irish companies had learned from the recession was that they were over-reliant on a successful domestic economy.

"The sensible response to this has been to look overseas for new markets and thereby reduce vulnerability," commented the IEA president.

As Ireland exits the Troika support programme, more than 80pc of companies said they felt Ireland's international reputation had improved over the last year.