Fine Gael Meath West TD and Chairman of the Oireachtas Jobs Committee, Damien English, has today (Friday) said that Irish exports have continued to perform very strongly, despite the turmoil that dominated the European economy. Deputy English was responding to the latest figures from the CSO, which show that exports were up 7% in May.
“Our economy remains in a fragile state, but these figures, combined with some other positive indicators, give some cause for cautious optimism. Exports increased by more than €500 million, or 7% in May, with a particularly strong performance from the chemical and medical sectors. Crucially, these figures show that the EU accounts for 58% of our export market, meaning we are continuing to trade successfully across Europe, despite the uncertainty that has prevailed over the last year or two.
“These figures come on the back of results earlier this week, which showed that the economy grew by 1.4% last year, which was better than forecast. The IDA has also announced that its client companies created a total of 6,000 jobs last year. There was, however, a dip in growth figures in the first three months of the year; demonstrating the fact that our recovery is tentative. But now that we’ve passed the Stability Treaty and a better deal on our bank debt is in prospect, we are in a much better position to benefit from an upturn in the international economy when it happens.
“The Government has been tasked with completely rebuilding the economy. We have placed a particular focus on a number of sectors that have significant export potential, like IT, pharmaceuticals and agri-food. A number of initiatives have also been introduced to make it easier for Irish companies to enter the export market. These include the new Potential Exporters Division within Enterprise Ireland and the creation of a new network of ‘one-stop-shop’ micro enterprise support offices to provide advice to firms locally.
“We are an exporting nation, and we need to be ambitious and innovative about how we use this to our maximum benefit. More and more small Irish companies are being helped to expand overseas and grow their operations here. We are continuing to enter new markets and the Government has identified the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as key locations for future expansion.
“Unemployment remains a huge challenge. But by restructuring our banking system, focusing on retraining and up-skilling programmes and expanding in the sectors where we are performing well internationally, we are bringing about the conditions that will lead to jobs growth. I am confident that a better deal on our banking debt, which will be negotiated over the coming months, will give us a much better shot at a sustainable economic recovery.”