Today’s Export Ireland 2014 survey found a 71% increase in exports during the year – higher than last year’s growth of 62% – and a positive outlook for 2015.
Some 85% of respondents to the survey said they expect exports to increase once again next year.
More than 62% of companies said access to loans and other sorts of finance has improved in the past year. That represents a sharp turnaround from the 2013 survey, in which the same proportion (62%) said there had been no improvement.
Access to finance is still challenging, however, with more than 25% saying they had to give personal guarantees to their bank to access loans.
However, the association warned that the cost of labour is a major concern, as production costs for many have risen faster than the rate of inflation.
“It is not surprising that labour related costs and access to finance remain the dominant challenges in this year’s survey,” said Simon McKeever, Chief Executive of Irish Exporters Association said. “These are of major concern for exporters.”
Exporters are also embracing new things - 80% of respondents said they were investing in developing new products at home point in the last two years, with 47% increasing spend on research and development last year.
In addition, almost three-quarters have expanded to new markets.
McKeever said expanding growth to new markets was important due to uncertain conditions in the Eurozone, which accounts for 40% of all exports.
The food and drink sector also forecast a 20.2% increase next year.
The survey was carried out by Grant Thornton Ireland for the Irish Exporters Association.
— Dave Molloy