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Record Export Year For Ireland

by Jason Gorringe,, London

29 December 2011

Irish firms experienced record levels of exports in 2011 and are now using a renewed confidence to aggressively target opportunities in international markets, according to the latest figures from Enterprise Ireland.

In its End of Year Statement, Enterprise Ireland estimates that client companies’ export sales grew in 2011 and that the final export figures will exceed the pre-recession record levels of 2008. New export sales in excess of EUR1bn are expected to be recorded for 2011. In addition, employment in client companies stabilised after a period of decline, in spite of severe global conditions. Indeed, Enterprise Ireland said the firms have emerged leaner, stronger and with a greater appetite for international growth than ever before.

Total employment in Enterprise Ireland client companies stood at 162,692 in 2011. Of these, 141,228 are full-time jobs, a similar number to last year, while 21,464 are part-time jobs, representing a slight increase on 2010. With the world economy predicted to grow moderately in 2012, it is believed Irish companies will experience further opportunities to increase exports, thus sustaining and creating employment in Ireland.

Joe Costello, the Minister for Trade and Development, welcomed the statement, saying it confirms that notwithstanding the very challenging global circumstances they faced this year, Irish companies managed to achieve record levels of exports. He said, “These figures confirm that the government’s strategy to support an export led recovery is the right one. I am determined in my new capacity as Minister for Trade, to continue to maximise every opportunity to support Irish companies doing business overseas.” Costello added that he looked forward to participating in the government’s Export Trade Council and to leading a number of trade missions to some of Ireland's key export markets.

The report also details features of Enterprise Ireland's projects in 2011. Over the course of the year, Enterprise Ireland introduced a number of new initiatives in direct response to the demands of entrepreneurs and client companies including the creation of Competitive Start Funds for very early stage entrepreneurs, worth EUR50,000 per start-up, to 55 firms. A EUR10m International Fund was set up for attracting entrepreneurs from overseas, and a Graduates 4 International Growth programme saw 120 graduates placed with Irish companies all over the world. Leadership training for Chief Financial Officers was offered, while staff resources in key markets were re-aligned to maximise impact in key ‘first time export’ and High Growth Markets, with Enterprise Ireland opening its first office in South Africa.

In 2011, a record number of Irish companies were acquired by overseas Multinationals, with firms such as Research in Motion (Blackberry), BAE Systems, AMDOCS and IBM giving the acquired companies significantly greater global reach. Large scale R&D expansions were supported in 110 companies, and the Technology Centre programme, which Enterprise Ireland runs jointly with the IDA, is already delivering next generation technologies to key industry sectors such as manufacturing, bio-energy, nanotechnology, microelectronics, IT, composite materials, energy and food. The programme expanded in 2011 with the announcement of centres in Financial Services, Cloud Computing and Learning Technologies.

In addition, Enterprise Ireland continued to introduce Irish companies to ‘big ideas’ from 3rd level research in 2011. More than 90 technologies were licensed to companies during the year and a further 30 spin-out companies were created through Enterprise Ireland’s support of the technology transfer offices in Higher Education Institutions. A further 51 companies were supported through the Innovation Partnership programme which enables companies to source technical solutions to their business challenges from Higher Education Institutions.

748 companies received Innovation Vouchers worth EUR5,000 which allowed them to work with researchers in local third level institutes and colleges and access knowledge and specialist equipment. Enterprise Ireland also helped Irish companies secure EUR31.8m from the Seventh EU Framework Programme (FP7) and the European Space Agency, both important sources of non-exchequer funding.

Frank Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Ireland said: “Enterprise Ireland is proud of the companies we work with. They have proved to be resilient and relentless in their pursuit of new market opportunities and they are to be commended on their success. Enterprise Ireland is determined to continue to support their job creation initiatives and identify and help secure overseas business in established and high growth markets. This will not only assist growth in exporting businesses, but local economies in every county in Ireland. It is also apparent that Companies that invest in continuous research and development have been our most successful in overseas markets."

“There should be no misunderstanding however, and it’s been widely reported, that 2012 will be a year of continuing challenges. In preparation for this, Enterprise Ireland will move rapidly to implement the Government’s planned Jobs Strategy. We will continue to focus on lean programmes to increase clients competitiveness; we will continue to increase numbers of High Potential Start Ups from within Ireland and from overseas; we will continue to help companies win business overseas in both established and high growth markets; and we will continue to introduce new offers and initiatives to ensure that the full focus of Enterprise Ireland is aimed at meeting the needs of our clients so they can sustain and grow employment,” Ryan concluded.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, added: "Creating an indigenous engine of economic growth is central to my plan for revitalising the economy. Enterprise Ireland, and the various supports it provides to domestic businesses, particularly in the exporting sector, will be key to this. In these very difficult times, to have kept employment steady in the companies it supports, with increases in certain categories, is a creditable performance. I commend Frank, his team, and above all the businesses on this record. Although 2012 will be another difficult year, this government is determined to continually improve our supports to domestic job-creating businesses through improvements in access to finance and reductions in costs. With the right supports I hope that these businesses can build on this year’s performance and get more people back to work”.

TAGS: South Africa | tax | economics | business | Ireland | fiscal policy | energy | training | entrepreneurs | employees | food | manufacturing | revenue statistics | trade | research and development | Africa

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