Enterprise Ireland (EI) has warned that export-orientated client companies face a “challenging” second half to this year, but said the outlook for annual performance remains positive, nevertheless.
The agency in charge of the overseas development of Irish firms said client companies achieved combined exports of just under €25.5bn during 2020. This was flat on 2019 levels, but a decent showing in the face of Covid and Brexit challenges.
It said client firms expect exports to increase by 8% this year.
EI chief executive Leo Clancy said the overall results for 2020 highlight the “underlying strength of our export sector”.
He said EI approved €198m in Covid funding support to more than 1,600 companies, which protected more than 27,500 jobs.
The actual outcome for the full year will depend on developments during the year in terms of both the course of the pandemic and global market conditions, EI said.
However, the first half of 2021 has seen some positivity, with EI client firms winning nearly 600 new contracts — 14% more than the first half of 2020.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the EI figures give reasons to be hopeful.
“There is a general expectation among Enterprise Ireland companies that export growth will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2021," said Mr Varadkar.
"This positivity also extends to the important UK market where, despite the logistical challenges many companies have overcome, businesses are planning to increase exports there.
“So, things are looking up. Our exporting sector is vital to our future economic success and job creation strategy,” he said.