2016 at a Glance: Top-10 Exporting highlights and infographic

Dublin, 3rd January 2017 – The Irish Exporters Association (IEA), the voice of the export industry in Ireland, today publishes an infographic that summarizes 2016 activities for Irish exporters.

Please find the infographic here

  • Visa and legalisation services increased by 16%
  • The top five countries for visa applications were China, India, Russia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia
  • Africa and Asia are the fastest growing markets with visa applications to Kenya, Iran, Pakistan and Ghana all on the rise and the IEA has seen a growing interest in companies looking to do business with Vietnam, Algeria and Indonesia
  • Over 700 professionals were trained in Good Distribution Practice and 89% of attendees on our Customs Compliance courses would recommend our training and 100% said they are likely to attend future training courses with us
  • Over 3,300 people attended our market and industry focused events all around the country
  • The National Export Hub launched the Export Knowledge Programme, an education initiative for first-time exporters, and 18 companies graduated in the inaugural class
  • The National Export Hub assisted over 100 SME companies on their export journey with introductions to potential business partners in international markets
  • The Chanelle Group were announced Exporter of the Year 2016 and Colm Lyon, CEO and Founder of Fire Financial Services Ltd and Founder of Realex Payments, received the Export Gold Medal for his dedication to the export sector
  • 48% of our assists to members were introductions to potential business partners and key stakeholders, helping them to enter new markets
  • We lobbied government on a number of key issues for exporters including: Brexit and Ireland’s relationship with the UK and EU post UK EU referendum; reform in the education sector, the skills shortage and the development of a new National Skills Strategy to 2025; Export Finance; Budget 2017; Public Sector Wages and the effect on our cost competitiveness; entrepreneurship; infrastructural improvements, such as broadband in the West; the migrant crisis; the expansion of our export base and market diversification; the National Economic Dialogue.

Simon McKeever, CEO of the Irish Exporters Association commented: “This has been an incredible year for the Irish Exporters Association. In May this year we celebrated 65 years in business, the business of helping our members to grow their exports. We launched our regional development strategy early this year to increase our presence across the country, enhance our ability to understand and develop solutions for the local issues that are affecting our members, and to ensure we strengthen the regional input into the main IEA National Council and ultimately how we address these issues on behalf of our members, both in our strategy and in what we speak to Government about. We have established a Cork Regional Council and a West Regional Council. 845 exporting professionals have used our training programmes, the most sought after being: Good Distribution Practice, Customs, Warehousing and more. And we are excited to be introducing our new Food Law and Labelling course in the New Year. We have aggressive plans to grow our training suite in 2017. Our SME programme, the National Export Hub, this year launched a new educational initiative, the Export Knowledge Programme which takes participants through a support led journey to improve their capability to export into existing and new markets on the Island of Ireland and internationally. We have just commenced a second intake of this programme with companies to graduate in the spring of next year.

This has been a challenging year for the Irish export industry. In June the majority of the UK electorate took the decision to leave the EU and this has heavily impacted the price of Sterling, which in the last year has fluctuated from as low as 70 pence to a high above 90 pence. We do not yet know what the long-term implications of this decision will be, our sense is that this is becoming a lot bigger than just Brexit, but our advice for now is to do an impact assessment, especially in relation to the exchange rate, and to look at your supply chains and the potential impact of changes in currency, customs, tariffs, VAT, visa requirements and EU regulations & legislation on your business. Ireland has traded with the UK for over 1,000 years and we will continue to do so. The IEA stresses the importance of the Irish-British trading relationship and whilst calling for its protection we must identify and maximise any and every single opportunity that arises for the country.

In November, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to reduce US corporation tax which has the potential to impact FDI in this country. As with Brexit, it is too early to say whether an exodus of Irish FDI is likely at this point. Our sense is that the multinational companies that are established in Ireland have made significant financial investments in setting up their base here. Also, the reasons that Ireland is such an attractive destination for FDI have not changed. A lot of the multinationals that are based in Ireland are here to service local markets, the Middle East, Africa and most importantly the EU – they still need to continue to gain access to these markets.

What Brexit, and what we in the IEA are calling Trexit, highlights is the need for Ireland to diversity its export markets. The IEA has been at the forefront of the public debate on Brexit. We were the first business organisation to shout out the potential impact of Brexit and whilst we will continue to lead the public debate on Brexit, we will shine a greater spotlight on the opportunities in further flung markets to our members in 2017. As a community of exporters, it is vital that we gear up and focus more of our attention on high growth markets like China, India, and the ASEAN nations, Africa, South America, and on the emerging opportunities in places like Iran, and become less dependent on our trade relationships with the EU, US and UK.

There is no doubt that 2016 has been a year of seismic change, leading to high levels of volatility in exchange rates. 2017 looks likely to be no different. With elections scheduled in the Netherlands, France and Germany, the EU and its future will become centre stage. Brexit needs to be viewed in this context and Ireland and our representatives need to do all we can to secure the best possible deal within the Brexit negotiation which is in the interests of this country. 

We must retain a steely eye on things at home, whilst things look okay now, we must ensure that we do not lose our competitiveness”