40.4bn in Irish exports in Q3

Good growth in merchandise and services exports brought total Irish exports for the third quarter to €40.4bn, marking a 9.3pc increase on last year.

The leap in exports was driven by an aggressive 12.8pc growth in merchandise exports, according to the Exporters Association (IEA) third quarter review.

The Association’s chief executive John Whelan said the export effort continues to show Ireland the “way out of the recession”.

The review said that merchandise exporters gained from a broadening out of the growth across most of the main international trading markets. Exchange rate competitiveness and continued buoyancy in global trade also assisted the acceleration in export growth.

Whelan said the euro exchange rate with the dollar in the three months to September was, on average, 10pc lower than it was in 2009. “This helped Irish manufactured goods exports to the US rise by 32pc in value,” continued Whelan. “This reversed the losses in exports to that market over the last two years. This indicates clearly that Irish exports are now competitive into the US, provided the US Treasury does not re-enter the currency market to weaken the dollar.”

Whelan added that the exchange rate with sterling also improved during the quarters, helping exports to the UK rise by 4pc. This was particularly important for the indigenous sector which trades heavily to the UK market, said Whelan.

The agri-food sector increased its export sales by 14pc. Services exports grew 4.9pc, a more modest growth than its aggressive pattern in the first half of the year. The Association expects export sales will continued to be strong for the rest of the year, and therefore has revised its forecast for the year to €158.9bn in total exports.

It added that Irish exports could grow faster next year if the Budget 2011 is supportive of the export sector and does not increase the cost of exporting from Ireland. The IEA Pre-Budget Submission outlines the key routes to export expansion that should be supported in the Budget.

Whelan stated that despite the strong overall performance of Ireland exports, it is hard to overstate the difficulties faced by exporters in 2010. He said volatile exchange rates, reduced trade finance for expansion, withdrawal of bank bond guarantees, withdrawal of invoice discounting cover and credit insurance difficulties all are problems which exporters still face.

However, he concluded, “There is clear evidence that exporters can drive their way out of this recession and bring economic growth with it, but it is essential that the upcoming Budget supports export growth and does not increase the cost of doing business in Ireland.”