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News : Irish Economy Last Updated: Jan 6, 2011 - 6:29 AM

Exports from Ireland grew 6.7% to €161bn in 2010 but no net direct jobs were added
By Michael Hennigan, Founder and Editor of Finfacts
Jan 5, 2011 - 12:01 PM

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Despite the surge in exports by 50% in current money terms in the period 2000-2009, the numbers employed in foreign-owned enterprises was back to the 1998 level. In 2010, jobs in the international tradeable sector fell to the 1997 level.

The Irish Exporters Association (IEA) today issued today its Review of 2010 and Projections for 2011 which showed that exports in the 4th quarter of 2010 grew by 18%, bringing total exports of goods and services for the year to €161bn, the highest export figure ever recorded, and represents a growth of 6.7% on the previous year. However, no net jobs were added as a result of the rising exports.

The IEA is projecting that exports of goods will grow by 5% in 2011 with the services sector forecast to grow by 10% giving an overall growth forecast for the year 2011 of 7.2% pushing Ireland’s total exports to a new high of €172.6bn.

According to John Whelan, chief executive of the Irish Exporters Association, while the growth in 2010 and anticipated growth in 2011 was indeed welcome, the IEA fears that it will not be enough to ensure that economic growth targets laid out in the IMF four year plan will be met.

The full-time jobs level in the international tradeable sector is now at 268,000  --  the same level as in 1997 when the workforce was 25% smaller.

In Ireland in recent years, exports of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and medical devices have been the bright stars of foreign trade. While these products accounted for about 60% of merchandise exports in 2010 and the value of exports in current money terms has increased 38% during the six years 2004-2010, direct employment remained in the low 40,000s.

The main points in the IEA review of 2010 are:

  • A significant return to growth in Irish exports resulting from an economic bounce back in many international markets.

  • Exports to North America were particularly strong with sales to our largest market, the USA, up by 18% in the year, and sales to Canada up by 27%.

  • The emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC countries) showed an increase of 12%.

  • Germany, the largest of the EU markets, provided a much needed boost to Eurozone exports with Irish exports increasing by 42%.

Finfacts article, Nov 2010:Foreign-owned firms accounted for 91% of Ireland's tradeable exports in 2009; Food & drink exports fell 15%

Whelan said that despite the difficult economic conditions at home and in global markets that the Irish exporting sector was able to make significant gains, to set new highs for total exports. “The key drivers of the export expansion, especially during the final quarter of 2010, were the manufacturing and agri-food sectors,” said Whelan. He noted that during the fourth quarter manufactured or merchandise exports grew 27% compared to the same period the year before while services exports also grew at an impressive rate of 12% in the final quarter compared to the same period a year earlier.

“There were clear signs through out the whole year that manufacturing and agri-food sectors were repositioning themselves, shedding costs, moving up the value chain, and exploiting renewed growth in global markets,” said Whelan. He also said that the statistics indicated that there was a clear shift away from dependence on the UK market in favour of export developments in North America, South America and Asia.

Outlook for 2011

The Irish agri-food sector based on global demand, improved commodity prices and changes in the EU policy on agricultural output incentives increased its export output by some 8% in 2010 and growth of this magnitude is expected to continue in 2011. The life sciences sector which includes products such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and medical devices currently accounts for over 60% of total Irish merchandise exports, grew by 12% in 2010 and the IEA expects that the sector will continue to grow in 2011.

The IEA is projecting that the total exports of goods will grow by 5% in 2011 with services forecast to grow by 10% giving an overall growth forecast for the year 2011 of 7.2% pushing Ireland’s total exports to a new high of €172.6bn.

The Irish Exporters Association while being positive about the continued growth of exports says it believes that much more needs to be done. It says that the rate of unemployment currently at 13.25% will not fall during 2011 due to the planned reduction in public sector employment and the much anticipated reduction in employment in the banking sector.

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