Enterprise Ireland, the state agency responsible for helping Irish companies to grow and expand in international markets, saw exports by companies it supports increase by 12% to a record €27.29 billion last year.
This is the highest ever level of growth for Enterprise Ireland-backed companies in export value, and strong increases were experienced across almost all sectors in 2021.
Exports from Enterprise Ireland supported companies last year grew across all territories. Despite the uncertainty caused by the changed trading relationship between the UK and Ireland, exports to this market totalled €8.43 billion. This marks a rise of 15% and the UK accounts for almost one-third (31%) of our export trade.
Diversification has been a key focus of Enterprise Ireland’s work in recent years, and exports by client companies to the Eurozone increased by 10% last year, totalling €6.04 billion and accounting for over one-fifth (22%) of total exports. The next largest market was North America, which saw a 14% increase, bringing total exports to €4.87 billion. This important market, our third largest, now accounts for 18% of total exports from Enterprise Ireland supported companies.
Growth was seen across almost all economic sectors in 2021 and food exports increased by 6%, accounting for over €12.91 billion or 47% of total exports.
Exports from construction firms increased by almost one-quarter (24%) totalling €2.89 billion in 2021, in 2021, while consumer retail exports rose by 13% to €1.09 billion. Exports from Enterprise Ireland- backed digital technology firms rose by more than one-fifth to a value of €1.53 billion. While exports from the engineering sector rose by 14% in 2021 to €1.82 billion.
Speaking in relation to the results Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar said, “these are really impressive results and a testament to the hard work and resilience of thousands of Irish entrepreneurs and their staff across the country. It is quite remarkable that despite the headwinds we faced last year, not least the realisation of Brexit and the continuing effects of the pandemic, Irish business managed to have a record year for exports – 12% up on the previous year. Behind these figures today are thousands of jobs in every county in the country.”
“We’re working hard to diversify our export base and I’m glad to see exports up so substantially in the Eurozone and North America. We also saw significant increases in our smaller markets like the Middle East, Africa, India and Latin America. We will continue to promote Irish products and services in new and exciting markets, forging new relationships and opportunities. We have plenty of challenges still ahead. The global inflation crisis and Putin’s war on Ukraine are putting huge pressure on energy supplies, providing another impetus on business to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and do what they can to become more efficient with their resources. Enterprise has an important role to play in limiting climate disruption. There is a lot of information, grants and training available to help businesses make the necessary changes. I know it can be overwhelming, especially in the context of many other priorities, but Government is on hand to help.”
Welcoming the results, Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland, said, “these exceptionally strong export results follow on from the record number of net new jobs created in companies supported by Enterprise Ireland last year. There has been positive growth across most sectors and regions, and Enterprise Ireland clients contributed €31 billion to the domestic economy last year in employment and in purchases of materials and services. While the UK remains our largest trading partner it is good to see that our strategy to grow exports in other key markets, especially the Eurozone, continues to pay dividends.”
Despite the challenges in the first 6 months of this year, Enterprise Ireland clients have recorded positive growth in the first half of 2022 including:
- 561 new overseas contracts, 85% of which are outside the UK
- 199 new overseas presences
- 93 companies entered new markets