Enterprise Ireland chief executive Leo Clancy is not concerned about the impact UK trade deals might have on Irish exports, saying long-distance deals will not impact Ireland’s main exports to the country.
Last month, the UK joined the Indo-Pacific trading bloc which it hailed as its biggest trade deal since Brexit. The bloc includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Ireland’s exports to the UK now account for 29% of all exports, according to Enterprise Ireland figures. Annual exports to the market jumped 13%, to reach €9.2bn.
On the UK joining the Indo-Pacific trading bloc, Mr Clancy said these deals take a “long time” to complete and “trade deals from far away tend to impact things like food and heavy industry much less than other sectors” such as tech and the production of semiconductors.
“So we're still very confident about the UK.” On the record high of €32.1bn in exports last year, Mr Clancy said it would not go away overnight despite inflation being “baked into the numbers”.
Mr Clancy said he believed there was some optimism among Enterprise Ireland’s client base despite the difficulties in relation to inflation, rising interest rates, and the ability to raise capital.
Overall, year-on-year growth in exports climbed 19%.
Exports to the eurozone increased by 28% to €7.9bn, with the region now representing 25% of all exports by Enterprise Ireland-backed companies.
“While the record 19% year-on-year increase in exports is influenced by inflation in certain sectors, most notably in the dairy industry, the results released today demonstrate the continued strength of Irish products and services in international markets,” said Mr Clancy.
Meanwhile, exports to North America increased by 13%, reaching €5.5bn. North America now accounts for 17% of all exports by Enterprise Ireland client companies.
“Looking ahead we are very conscious of the current and emerging uncertainties for business in global markets,” said Mr Clancy.
“We are working with clients to help them anticipate and transform their business models to address areas such as sustainability, financing and skills,” he continued.
Total sales by companies supported by Enterprise Ireland, including domestic and export sales, rose to €62.3bn.
In addition to a rise in food exports, the industrial and life sciences sector also recorded a jump. For example, high tech construction and housing exports increased by 17% to €2.79bn.
Retail, consumer and online exports increased by 16% to €1.25bn as well.
“Irish business faced another challenging year in 2022, with energy costs, inflation and supply chain disruption impacting the trading environment,” Trade Minister Simon Coveney said.
“However, with a record €32bn in export sales, Irish business has demonstrated its ability to absorb global economic disruption and continue to compete and win in international markets,” he said.
The results were announced at the Enterprise Ireland summit in Dublin where business leaders met to discuss future opportunities for Irish enterprise.