Robust growth in agri-food exports of 7.8% and services export growth of 6.5% was not enough to stop the overall dip in exports in July, August and September, as manufacturing exports fell by 7.8%. 

The Irish Exporters Association's third quarter review shows that exports in total fell by 1.3% as the sluggish international scene hit Irish exporters.

However, the association says that the fall must be seen in the context of the contraction in global trade generally.

It points out that the World Trade Organisation last month cut its forecasts for trade growth this year and next year to 2.5% and 4.5% respectively. 

Today's review also shows that the country's cumulative exports for the nine months to the end of September fell by 1.1% - an improvement on the half year performance - and came after a relatively good third quarter performance. 

Merchandise exports to the UK expanded by 4% in the three months from July to September, the first expansion in sales to the UK this year. The IEA said that the prospects for continued growth in exports to the UK for the rest of the year and into 2014 are very strong.

But exports to the euro zone continued to contract by about 11% in the third quarter of the year. The IEA said that this was heavily affected by exports to Germany - the largest of the our euro zone export markets. 

Irish exports to the US contracted in the third quarter due to a fall in the value of pharmaceutical exports. Exports to Japan also declined.

Today's review shows that exports to the fast growing BRICS markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa also decreased in the third quarter. 

John Whelan, the Irish Exporters Association's chief executive, said that the decline in exports to the BRICS countries highlights the difficulties in entering into the fast growing markets, because of the distance and the technical and cultural challenges they present for most Irish exporters.

However he said that the third quarter performance of Irish agri-food exporters and the services exporters clearly shows that if we can perform this well in relatively unstable times, that the future is very bright when we get back to strong economic growth internationally.