The coming year will see continued growth in export markets, writes Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon.
During the closing months of 2014, barely a week went by without a significant new jobs announcement being made by an Irish company.
These jobs are being created right across the board, from young, ambitious, innovative start-ups to developed companies with strong brands and Irish MNCs that already have a well-established foothold in international markets.
Irish companies are really on the move, and the one thing they all have in common is that this growth and job creation are built on the back of very strong growth in key export markets.
Internationalization is critical for business growth and economic success.
Currently, 80pc of everything we make in this country is sold into export markets. The performance of Enterprise Ireland-backed companies in 2013 saw these companies achieve their highest level ever of exports from Ireland, reaching €17.1bn.
This very strong export performance is forecasted to continue into 2015. There is a palpable sense of energy and optimism in Irish companies. Business sentiment is rising, and the PMI Index for Ireland for October showed growth continuing in the manufacturing and the service sectors, with both increasing employment. As we look to 2015, we can be very confident that exports will continue to grow, and so will the follow-on job creation.
The indicators certainly seem to be telling us that the growth trajectory is very much upward and that there has never been a better time to go global and expand the business.
The obvious question is, which markets offer the best opportunity for Irish companies? In terms of market focus, Enterprise Ireland’s network of 31 international offices around the globe very much has its finger on the pulse regarding which markets offer the best fit and greatest potential for Irish exporters.
The UK, mainland Europe, and the US continue to be the traditional destinations for Irish products and services – these are markets where we can undoubtedly grow stronger. The real push, however, must come from chasing bigger opportunities further afield, increasing the focus on the Bric economies and wider high-growth markets.
Companies that are serious about pursuing international growth strategies must be serious about selling into high-growth markets. Enterprise Ireland has put increased resources in these areas specifically to support Irish companies in this drive - in the high-growth markets of China, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, Singapore, South Korea, Canada, and Western Australia. Irish companies are exporting more than ever before, but the imperative now is to grow our export base in these new markets.
Our over-arching focus in Enterprise Ireland is on internationalization and supporting export-led growth and job creation. Doors are definitely open for Ireland in international markets. Across all sectors and in all markets, there are Irish companies doing business, winning new contracts, increasing export market share, and creating jobs. Looking forward to the coming year, we can confidently expect continued growth across all fronts.
CEO of Enterprise Ireland | Masters in International Business from Fordham University | Chairwoman of European Movement Ireland | IDA Ireland | Irish Strategic Investment Fund | Social Entrepenures Ireland | University of Ulster | Standford Executive Program | National Treasury Management Agency | National Competitiveness Council