Foreign ICT firms are our biggest exporters

Foreign multinationals in the information and communications technology sector continue to dominate as the country’s largest exporters.

Foreign ICT firms are our biggest exporters

Eight of the top 20 exporting companies are based in the ICT sector including Google, which moved up one place to top the list with export turnover of €17bn.

The search engine giant was followed by Microsoft Ireland (€15bn), Johnson & Johnson (€10.5bn), Dell Products (€8.6bn) and Smurfit Kappa Group (€7.3bn).

Commenting on the results of the Irish Exporters’ Association ‘Top 250 Exporters in Ireland and Northern Ireland’ report, IEA chief executive, Simon McKeever said the dominance of ICT sector firms was unsurprising given the leading firms operating here.

“It is no surprise that the ICT sector continues to perform as the leading export sector in the industry. The sector houses nine of the top 10 global software companies and 10 of the top global internet companies, all with strategic operations in Ireland. It is one of the country’s most prevalent employers, directly employing over 80,000 people,” said Mr McKeever.

Total exports from the sector, within the top 250, grew by 3% in the past year maintaining Ireland’s place as a leading exporter of computer and IT services in the world.

The recovery in the US and UK markets was identified as a key reason for the strong export performance, echoing the findings of the Investec services PMI which yesterday also cited the recovery in the same two trading partners as crucial to driving growth in the services sector.

However, a stagnating eurozone poses a substantial risk to export-focused business, according to Mr McKeever.

“Growth in the eurozone, where over 40% of our exports go, looks increasingly uncertain and we therefore must do more to diversify our export risk to focus on new and higher growth markets,” he said.

Mr McKeever also warned against wage hikes but welcomed suggestions of income tax cuts which he described as being badly needed, along with greater access to credit for SMEs.

Kerry Group, with export revenues of €5.2bn, topped the list of exporting food companies while Johnson & Johnson (€10.5bn) was the biggest exporter of the pharma and med-tech companies.

Investec equity analyst, Ian Hunter, said the sector has significantly grown its contribution to Irish exports in the last 15 years.

“The pharmaceutical industry has been a stellar contributor to the growth in goods exported from Ireland this century. Having started the century generating €22.21bn in exports and accounting for 26.5% of total goods exported, the sector peaked in 2010 at €46.36bn and a 50.8% contribution to goods exported,” said Mr Hunter.

The effect of the pharma patent cliff also presents an opportunity for Ireland to make a bigger contribution to drug discovery, Mr Hunter added.

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