Last year saw the value of Irish exports reach €161bn, which is the highest figure for export sales ever recorded.

According to the Irish Exporters Association's year end review for 2010, overall exports of goods and services grew by 6.7% in the year.

An economic recovery in international markets saw demand for Irish goods and services grow last year, particularly in the manufacturing and agri-food sectors.

Those sectors also changed their main focus away from the traditional UK market, towards new export opportunities in North and South America, as well as Asia.

Irish exports to the US grew by 18% and to Canada by 27%. Irish exporters also increased sales to Germany by 42%.

Exports to Brazil, Russia, India and China, which were up 12%, are expected to continue to underpin growth and new opportunities for Irish exporters.

The IEA says that while the outlook for this year is quite challenging and world trade growth is expected to slow, a weaker euro against sterling and the dollar will support continued export growth from Ireland.