The main representative body for the country’s 13,000 manufacturing export companies has called for a major growth stimulus package to safeguard Ireland’s export industry and economic growth prospects.
Speaking at the launch of the 2013 European Payment Index, by leading international credit management services company, Intrum Justitia, Irish Exporters’ Association chief, John Whelan, said the Government must act immediately to avoid permanent damage to the long-term growth prospects of the manufacturing sector.
“Manufacturing industry plays a critical role in the Irish economy, as a driver of export growth and offering significant spin-off effects for shipping, haulage and a wide range of sub-suppliers, but it has been under severe pressure for the past five years, with the volume of exports contracting by 10% since 2008 and job losses of 60,000 in the period,” he said.
The situation had become more critical over the past six months, he said.
On the IEA’s wishlist for Government activity is a return to capital investment grant structures to enable increased productivity and export competitiveness; a revision of the Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme to encourage more private sector investment in the manufacturing industry; an increase in the availability of low-cost working capital to assist companies’ international expansion and the creation of a low-cost insurance/guarantee scheme to underwrite and encourage manufacturers to enter fast growing, but more risky markets.
Increased government action was also high on the agenda at the annual conference of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland yesterday. Institute president Joe Aherne called for the establishment of a business transformation programme to help internationalise Irish SMEs, adding that increased supports are needed to help Irish entrepreneurs to maximise their export potential.
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