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  • Slowdown in growth of Irish exports to UK as Brexit highlights need to diversify 
  • Enterprise Ireland targets 50% increase in exports to Eurozone by 2020 – new strategy to increase funding, resources and company supports to enter and scale in Eurozone 
  • New ‘Irish Advantage’ campaign will target Eurozone buyers to promote Irish innovation in key Brexit impacted sectors 

Export growth to the UK, however, which accounted for €7.5bn of exports, slowed from 12 per cent in 2015 to 2 per cent in 2016. The slowdown was largely due to a decline in food exports.

Speaking at an event in Dublin, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that despite the uncertain macro-economic climate, clients of Enterprise Ireland continue to find new markets for their innovative products and services. “Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU the Government immediately acted to ensure our Enterprise agencies had additional resources in order to offer all available assistance to our exporters to prepare for the challenges posed by Brexit. The Enterprise Ireland Eurozone strategy – supporting companies to diversify into European markets – is an important element of this preparation.”

Marina Donohoe, Director UK & Northern Europe, Enterprise Ireland, commented: “Trade between the UK and Ireland stands at €1bn per week[1], supporting over 200,000 jobs in each country. We are determined to uphold these strong trade relations going forward, helping Irish companies deepen their collaboration with the UK.”

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, said: “The global results announced this week are heartening overall, with positive export growth in markets such as the USA and Asia. However, Brexit remains a huge challenge. I have met representatives of companies, business organisations and other stakeholders throughout the country in recent months to ensure that we are doing everything we can in response to both the short term and long term impact of Brexit to safeguard Irish jobs and exports in every region.

The figures released by the agency show that the strongest export growth globally was in software & internationally traded services, which grew by 16 per cent to €4.3bn, and Lifesciences, Engineering, Cleantech, paper print, packaging and electronics, up 10 per cent to €3.9bn and Construction, Timber and Consumer Retail up 8 per cent to €2.9bn.

Export sales grew across most territories with the USA & Canada increasing fastest by 19 percent to €3.7bn, followed by exports to the Asia Pacific region, up 16 per cent to €1.8bn.

The new Eurozone Strategy will see Enterprise Ireland partnering with some 600 client companies, approximately half of which are ‘Eurozone Start’ (relatively new to the market and who are heavily reliant on the UK) while the remainder are ‘Eurozone Scale’ (already exporting to the Eurozone).  

logoThe Eurozone strategy will see a number of new initiatives: 

  • Increase in funding for Eurozone growth: Enterprise Ireland will increase the level of funding available to support clients to enter or scale in the Eurozone. These include:
  • Eurozone Market research & feasibility grants
  • Eurozone market access grants for market expansion
  • Business innovation/R&D grants for product localisation
  • ‘Eurozone’ key manager grant
  • Management development training & access to language supports
  • International Graduate Programme with Eurozone language skills
  • Funding for trade event participation in Eurozone countries
  • Expanded Eurozone Trade Programme: Double the number (to 32) of trade visits and trade events, market study visits and inward buyer visits to key targeted Eurozone countries
  • Additional resources in the Eurozone: Enterprise Ireland will add to its in-market teams both directly and indirectly across its six offices in Europe to help Irish exporters identify new opportunities and establish new presences
  • Enhanced Company supports: Enterprise Ireland will invest in a range of tools for exporters to the Eurozone including enhanced access to market research on Eurozone sectoral opportunities, new specialist Eurozone market guides, learning tools and Peer2Peer support.  The agency will also expand its Ireland based and in-market #Global Ambition campaigns to inspire exporters and connect with buyers
  • New Digital “Irish Advantage” campaign to target key Eurozone buyers:

Enterprise Ireland is also developing a new digital marketing campaign targeted at buyers in key sectors in Eurozone markets.  The campaign will highlight the advantage which sourcing from Ireland provides, in terms of access to technology and innovation and working with Irish people who are creative and committed.  A key theme will be to highlight how buyers looking to Ireland can trust in the reliability of the supply chain and the quality of the goods and services being delivered from a country which is strongly committed to the EU.