Exports grew by 5%, or €9bn in 2012, according to the latest figures from the Irish Exporters Association.

This growth brought total exports for the year to a record €183bn.

The IEA said that services exports were the main driver of growth last year, with an 11% increase.

They now account for 49% of Ireland's total exports and are expected to increase to over 50% in the next year.

However, today's figures from the IEA show that manufactured goods exports showed no growth.

Weak numbers on computer hardware exports cancelled out the gains posted in medical devices and agri-food.

Exports of pharmaceuticals and chemicals also showed no growth, reflecting the impact of off-patent drugs on the sector, the IEA said.

The association is predicting growth of 5% in 2013 and a further 7% growth in 2014.

IEA's Chief Executive John Whelan said: "Ireland is now seen as the prime location in Europe for high-tech mobile, internet and social media technology companies.

"There is no doubt that there is a direct link between the increased success in this sector and our increased competitiveness, which, if maintained, will enable ensure significant long term jobs growth."

However, Mr Whelan said he was concerned about the lack of growth in exports to the fast-growing BRICS markets, where exports fell for the second consecutive year.

The BRICS countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

He pointed out that other EU countries have rapidly grown their exports to the BRICS countries to the point that they now account for 22% of total EU 27 exports, while exports from Ireland still only account for 4% of total Irish exports.

"This is a very worrying trend as 90% of global trade growth is expect to come from the emerging markets outside of the EU over the next decade," he said.

The IEA has urged the Government and State promotional agencies to further expand supportive efforts to enable Irish businesses to expand in the fast-growing emerging markets, as well as the markets of Turkey, Russia and Africa.

Today's IEA review shows that exports to the US fell by over €3bn due to the ending of patent protection on the US market, but this was balanced by growth in pharmaceutical and chemical products to the UK and Switzerland.

Irish exports to the eurozone showed no increase in 2011, with double digit falls in exports to Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and Greece.

This was partially offset by a major return to growth in exports to Ireland's largest euro zone trading partner - Germany - of 14%.

Last year saw exports to the European Union increase by 2.4% on the back of an unexpected 7% growth in exports to the UK, which was mainly due to a weaker euro compared to sterling.

The economic recovery in Japan also saw Irish exports growing by 19% last year.