News & Events

Enterprise Ireland Client company exports increase by 6% globally to €21.6bn

Enterprise Ireland, the state agency responsible for helping Irish companies export to international markets, has announced that its clients recorded export sales of €21.6bn in 2016, representing a 6 per cent increase on 2015.

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 the event, 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.”

Commenting on the export performance of Enterprise Ireland client companies in 2016, Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland said “A key role of Enterprise Ireland is to help companies to win new business in international markets and these results show a steady increase in the growth of Irish exports during 2016 globally, with strong growth in North America in particular, where exports grew by 19 per cent to €3.74bn.”

However, the fact that the growth of exports to the UK, has slowed suggests that the impact of Brexit on Irish companies has already started. Companies cannot afford to wait until the Brexit negotiations conclude – they must act now. While diversifying from the UK might have been a desirable objective for Irish companies in the past, Brexit means that it is now an urgent imperative”.

Responding to this Brexit challenge, Enterprise Ireland has announced a new Eurozone Strategy to assist Irish exporters increase exports in Eurozone countries by 50 per cent by 2020.

Brexit poses serious challenges for Irish companies which is why the Enterprise Ireland Eurozone strategy – supporting companies to diversify into European markets – is so important. Ireland remains steadfast in our commitment to the EU and we will continue to benefit in terms of trade and investment with our European partners further strengthening our exporting footprint. Exports create jobs and the record figures announced here today are very promising for jobs over the coming years”.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, said: “The global results announced today 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 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).

Julie Sinnamon said “This strategy is about driving one of the most significant shifts in the footprint of our client exports into the Eurozone. We have to work on the basis that Brexit will create new barriers to Irish trade with the UK. On the other hand, Eurozone markets can provide currency stability, proximity and potential for growth and opportunities for Irish companies.

We have identified priority sectors and growth targets in areas like construction, engineering, food and the life sciences/medtech sectors and will significantly increase our work with clients to help them on the export journey to identify market opportunities, undertake research and study visits, enter the markets and ultimately secure market growth and scale”.

The 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.


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.



For further information:

Conor O’Donovan, Head of Communications, Enterprise Ireland,

01-7272912 / 087 9671342 or

Nicola Corboy, Press & Media Relations, Enterprise Ireland

01-727 2973/ 086 0210114 or  

Notes to Editor