I attended the launch of the Irish Exporter’s Association immensely useful and user-friendly Top 250 Exporters 2015 this morning. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, launched the publication, noting in his remarks that with our recovery providing the platform and strong growth now powering our economy, we should aim realistically for a return to full employment. We have deeply rooted companies driven by exports that are fostering growth throughout the regions. With two out of three Irish companies investing in technology, we can see how dominant technology is to our top companies and to our economy.
Minister Bruton noted too that there was a strong entrepreneurial culture developing in Ireland and that the linkages between indigenous companies and FDI companies are intensifying. This is really very significant because FDI was never an end in itself: rather, in providing productive capacity, technological development, exports and jobs, FDI was conceived as a catalyst for the development of the indigenous economy, cut off as we were at independence from the island’s existing industrial base by partition.
The IEA’s Top 250 Exporters 2015 is an indispensable guide to what is going on in the Irish economy. We have come a very long way from the time when Ireland was a largely agricultural economy serving the food needs of Britain’s industrialised cities, often beef on the hoof. Today, the leading sectors in our export drive are ICT, medical devices, life sciences and high-end food and beverages. As the CEO of the IEA, Simon McKeever, noted in his remarks, ICT accounts for 44% of our exports, Life Sciences 32%, miscellaneous 13% and food and beverages 11%. Simon pointed out that there is great dynamism too, driven by acquisitions, with Ireland’s largest company Medtronic moving from 20th last year to 3rd this year on the list; Ingersoll Rand from 35th to 5th; and Activas from 70th to 6th.
Investec has partnered with the IEA in producing this report for the last five years. In his presentation, Investec’s economist Philip O’Sullivan noted that Irish GDP is at an all time high. Exports have been growing steadily, year on year. Moreover, growth in the “traditional” industrial sector is now in double digits. This, combined with growth unbroken in the last eight quarters, shows the increasing depth of our recovery as we enter a strong growth phase.
The Top 250 Exporters 2015 is not just a list but a short health report on the export sector, with profiles of the top companies and commentary from, amongst others, the IDA’s Martin Shanahan, Enterprise Ireland’s Julie Sinnamon, Bord Bía’s Aidan Cotter and key players in different sectors.
You can download a copy of the report here.
Director General, Trade Division
Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade