The Irish Exporters Association has said that relocating Irish embassy resources from Europe to parts of Africa, Asia and South America would help Irish exports to those regions.

The association's chief executive, John Whelan, said that while the Department of Foreign Affairs is doing a "tremendous" job, more resources are necessary in growing markets where state entry mechanisms are often necessary to support exporters.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said the department was looking at value for money in the embassy structure across Europe.

He said that embassy closures could be the best option if the country cannot get more resources into the fast-growing emerging markets.

"In the current climate it's probably the best option. It's not an ideal solution, but in tight times needs must, and we believe the correct place to have the best resources for the export industry is in Asia."

Figures released by the association show that exports surged during July, August and September as the sector heads for a record year.

Goods and services worth €46.7bn were shipped from Ireland in the three months, an increase of 10% on the same period a year ago.

The IEA said full-year figures are set to hit a record €183.7bn this year, dismissing concerns that a slowdown in Ireland's main trading partners could hurt trading for Irish companies overseas.

According to the IEA, the growth in three months to the end of September had been driven by a decline in the euro against the US dollar and sterling, while the pharmaceuticals sector had also expanded sharply.

Export growth was helped by strength in the "manufacturing and merchandise" sector, from companies that make pharmaceuticals, chemicals and medical devices.

These saw growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and account for 61% of Irish manufacturing exports.

As with earlier in the year, the export of services continued to grow, with computer services driving the growth.

The association said that exports to the growing markets of Asia, Africa, Russia and South America were disappointing, with today's figures showing a drop in exports for the nine months to September to China by 4%, to India by 10%, to South Africa by 5% and to Brazil by 15%.

Exports from the agri-food sector fell by 1% over the first nine months of the year, and computer hardware exports have fallen by 17%.