Contracts worth €12m have been agreed between a number of Enterprise Ireland client companies and their US customers.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen made the announcement in New York following an Enterprise Ireland business networking breakfast for Irish companies and their customers in the New York Stock Exchange.

Making the announcement, Mr Cowen said Irish companies now employ over 80,000 people across all 50 US states, which is a ten-fold increase in the past ten years.

He said that the US is a priority market for Ireland's fast-growing high-tech sector and the profile of Irish-owned companies selling into the US has changed in a big way.

Following the breakfast meeting, Mr Cowen rang the bell for the opening of the stock exchange.

Later, he met with Enterprise Ireland's North American Financial Services Advisory Board.

The board consists of ten senior Wall Street executives, many of whom are Irish or Irish-American and who donate their time to assist Irish companies targeting the North American financial services sector.