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Economic woes stall Irish exports

By control on November 3, 2011

The Irish Exporters Association has downgraded its 2011 growth projection from 7 percent to 5 percent after a rough third quarter. Although Irish shippers saw a 12-percent surge in food exports from July to September, total export sales only grew 1.7 percent from the third quarter of 2010 — a casualty of debt crises across the Eurozone, IEA officials explained.

The most upsetting third-quarter result was the nearly 3-percent decrease in manufactured/merchandise goods, according to members of the association. IEA CEO John Whelan said this loss is so problematic, in fact, that it could impair the Irish economy if it continues.

Still, all hope isn’t lost, he explained. “The poor showing of exports in the third quarter does not detract from the positive growth posted so far this year,” Whelan said in a statement. After all, export levels from January to September surged 5.4 percent, year-over-year, with computer hardware exports increasing 13 percent from the first nine months of 2010.

Unfortunately, the third quarter wasn’t quite as profitable for computer hardware exports. In addition to shipping lower quantities of these goods, Irish exporters also reported a third-quarter slowdown in the pharmaceutical/chemical sector. And it’s these losses that led IEA officials to slash their 2011 growth projection.

To avoid future troubles, Whelan encouraged Ireland-based shippers to diversify their client lists. Instead of focusing primarily on shipments to nations like the U.S., Irish exporters need to seek out countries with strong economic growth, he remarked.

“I have no doubt that a premium return can be expected from increasing support to exporters to expand in the fast-growing emerging markets, particularly the ‘BRIC economies’ — Brazil, Russia, India and China,” Whelan said in a statement.

This will certainly be a break from traditional operations, he maintained. “The fact that the EU and the U.S. markets currently account for over 80 percent of Irish export sales dramatically illustrates the need for a sustained and targeted approach to developing sales in the emerging markets,” Whelan concluded.

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