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Exports hit record of €15bn

IRISH-owned companies notched up record export levels at €15bn last year.

The figures revealed in Enterprise Ireland's annual report and accounts for 2011 show that indigenous firms hit records not even witnessed during the highs of the Celtic Tiger.

New export sales exceeded €2.14bn, a record increase.

And the agency said that employment levels in home-grown companies also stabilised.

More than 9,000 jobs were created by client companies last year, while job losses were the lowest recorded in recent years.

"The performance of Ireland's exporting sector in overseas markets in 2011 was remarkable in any context, but particularly against the backdrop of a global economic slowdown," said Frank Ryan (above), chief executive of Enterprise Ireland.

"Indigenous exporters also spent €18.3bn on goods and services in the Irish economy in 2011."

Enterprise Ireland supported 93 new high-potential start-ups, approving €20.4m in funding, and there were 19 follow-on investments in high potential start-ups, valued at €3m.