Exports by Irish-owned companies increased by 10% last year, reaching a new record high value of €18.6 billion, according to Enterprise Ireland. 

The UK accounted for €6.8 billion of this, following growth of 9% in this key market for Irish-owned firms. 

The US and Canada bought €2.3 billion worth of goods, up 16%. 

Latin America saw the biggest percentage gain - up 42% - but off a low base, with sales last year of €224m.

Enterprise Ireland said exports now account for 51% of sales at the companies the agency supports, compared to 42% ten years ago, when the value of export sales was €8.5 billion. 

It is targeting export sales of €22 billion by these firms by the end of next year.

Today's figures show that the biggest percentage growth was recorded by the software sector.

The chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, Julie Sinnamon, noted that growth was recorded across all sectors and in all international markets. 

"These results are reflected in the record jobs performance by Enterprise Ireland clients in 2014 where the agency's clients recorded the highest net job gains in the history of the agency and further validate Enterprise Ireland’s investment in indigenous industry," she added.