The Irish economy is forecast to have annual trade growth of around 6% a year, predicted in a forecast by HSBC.

HSBC forecasts an improving demand for Irish exports over the next few years, on the back of economic growth in our biggest trading partners - the US and euro zone. 

The bank said the most dynamic emerging market for Irish exports is expected to be China, whose share in exports is forecast to double from around 2% now to 4% by 2030. 

The chemicals sector dominates the export outlook for Ireland as it is expected to account for around half of foreign sales over the next few years.  

HSBC also said today that Ireland has performed well in its global Trade Conference Index. Ireland recorded a reading of 117 - above the no change level of 100. The Irish mark compared to a global reading of 113 with most of the respondents expecting trade volumes to rise over the next six months.

The index is the largest trade confidence survey globally. It gauges sentiment, and expectations on trade activity and business growth in the next six months. A reading over 100 signals expected expansion in trade. 

Over 60% of companies surveyed cited Europe as the market with the best growth opportunities in the near term.  In contrast, companies operating in the emerging markets of Latin America and the Middle East reported a slight dip in optimism, while Asian confidence was steady.

HSBC noted that emerging markets are moving quickly in Research and Development investment to capture more of the value of their merchandise exports. It said this is especially clear in the high-tech sector.

HSBC's Alan Duffy says that Irish firms are well placed to exploit the brightening outlook for the major Western economies. "Geographic proximity to the UK will allow exporters to share in their brisk recovery, and trade links and a common currency will  help Irish firms re-establish their positions in euro zone markets after a few years of lacklustre performance," he added.