Exports of goods from multinationals and indigenous Irish companies have grown at a phenomenal rate over the past decade, Minister for Enterprise Micheál Martin said today.
The minister also heralded the growth in services exports in Ireland as a major achievement with the market now valued at €44bn.
“As a result of our success in attracting multi-national enterprises to Ireland, some 65% of our exports are now accounted for by multinationals, and the USA has become our largest export market, taking approximately 20% of our merchandise goods exports,” he said.
At the launch of the DHL Export Awards for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) companies, Mr Martin said Ireland was now one of the top three exporters in the world in per capita terms.
“From the mid 1990s to the end of the decade, exports of merchandise goods by multinationals and indigenous companies grew phenomenally, from €18bn to €92bn,” he said.
“Since then, of course, there have been periods when the exporting environment has been more difficult than in others, and in the past couple of years we have seen the growth trend slow down from the heady heights of the late 1990s. Even so, with the exception of 2003, exports have continued to grow year on year.”
Mr Martin, who said SME sector had contributed strongly to the economic growth, said the total Irish trade of merchandise goods in 1973 was valued at €1.65bn, while in 2004 that figure has risen to €133bn.
“While I fully acknowledge the difficulties faced by Irish exporters, I am to some extent heartened by the resilience which we have seen in both the internationally traded sectors and in the wider economy over the past number of years,” he said.
“Growth is recovering to its medium-term sustainable level, we have not experienced a significant surge in unemployment and I firmly believe that Irish exporters still have the capacity to win in global markets.”