Boosting exports ‘key’ to recovery

ECONOMIC recovery and job creation will in future be led by boosting exports and not by the struggling construction sector.

Growth in exports offers the only sustainable strategy to secure long term economic prosperity, according to a new report by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).

Apart from chemicals and pharmaceuticals which continue to thrive, many other exporting sectors face significant head winds.

“Urgent action is required to address the critical competitiveness issues for individual exporting sectors”, including food and computer equipment, NCC chairman, Dr Don Thornhill, said at the publication of the report called Driving Export Growth: Statement on Sectoral Competitiveness.

“It is clear that despite the challenging conditions which they currently face, there is a bright future for our exporters provided employers, employees, policymakers and other stakeholders respond quickly and effectively to develop a more competitive operating environment for firms.”

Eight sectors with significant opportunities for future growth are identified including food and drink; medical technologies; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; ICT manufacturing and services; international financial services; tourism; environmental goods and services and other internationally traded services.

Together these account for 80% of total Irish exports and all need state back-up if they are to thrive internationally. These include provision of specialised courses for the ICT, financial services and environmental goods and services sectors.

It also identified the need to enhance the clinical trials process which is key to increasing the size of the pharmaceutical and medical technologies sectors.

In particular “we need to consolidate and streamline approval processes” for new products and technologies by ensuring government departments and agencies combine to implement coherent strategies for various sectors including food and tourism, the NCCreport said. It stressed the need also for an upgrading of the road infrastructure serving the west of Ireland.

Such a move was critical for the medical technologies sector which has been denied easy access to international markets which the report acknowledges as a serious impediment to growth in the region and sector.

It also called for legislation to help develop markets for “indigenous green companies” to create “first mover advantage” for Irish companies in this rapidly growing sector. It was also vital that the country embarks on an integrated approach to the creation of a top class tourism offering that will attract more visitors.

“As well as the unique set of challenges facing individual sectors, a number ofissues are common across many or all sectors; these include improving cost competitiveness and growing productivity and sustaining investment in the productive sectors of the economy,” the report said.


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