Developments at one of the largest ports in the country show how strongly Irish imports and exports are growing.

New figures from the Port of Waterford show there has been almost a 20% increase in ship movements at its facility in Bellview.

Management at Waterford Port said it has plans to invest around €5m in the coming years on foot of its strong growth. 

Waterford Port recorded operating profits of €964,000 for the first six months of this year, up substantially from the same period in 2016.  

Turnover at the company increased by 21% to €3.8m for the first half of the year. 

One of the major contributors to the increased turnover was additional bulk throughput with total bulk tonnes up to 701,992 for the six months, an increase of 30% on the same time a year ago.  

Growth was experienced across all products handled, with animal feed and project cargo activity performing particularly strongly. 

The commercial state company has also recently published its annual corporate plan update covering the years to 2021.  

This envisages activity and profitability increasing significantly with annual revenues targeted to reach almost €10m and capital investment of €5m forecast.  

Ship arrivals in the six months to June 30 were up 19% on the first half of 2016 and an additional three people are now directly employed by Waterford Port.
 
An economic study on the cruise business in the southeast is underway and this week saw a maiden call by the newly-commissioned Silver Muse at Dunmore East. 

The company also continues to work with the southeast's local authorities and a wide group of other stakeholders to advance the region's economic agenda.
 
Frank Ronan, chief Executive of the Port of Waterford, said the ongoing success of its partners in the bulk sector has helped deliver a strong trading performance. 

"In other parts of the business, we are working hard to attract additional container services and to find ways to grow our share of the cruise market. The support of our various allies in the region is key to our success and we will continue to work in close partnership with all of our stakeholders," Mr Ronan added.