The Irish Exporters' Association has said the Government needs to consider putting in place supports for Irish businesses that are suffering as a result of the Coronavirus. 

The association said it is getting extremely concerned about the evolving situation which is impacting the movement of goods between Ireland and China. 

Chief executive, Simon McKeever, said the stagnation in trade between the countries presents a threat to our economy at both a micro and macro level.

He said it was proving extremely difficult for many Irish companies to get goods into China at the moment, because of the restrictions in place there to stem the spread of the virus.

Companies here that are sourcing components and raw materials from China were also finding it very difficult to get them out of China.

These companies could begin running out of inventory within 4-6 weeks, he predicted.

This could pose difficulties for local and rural areas around the country which are dependent on manufacturing businesses, he claimed.

Mr McKeever recommended that companies experiencing these difficulties should start looking for alternative routes into and out of China.

He said some air routes are still open, but China has ten of the world's biggest ports and the challenge is that 80% of manufactured goods travel by sea.

Firms should also consider that at some point in the future the situation will ease, he said, and there will be massive pent up demand for logistics after that.

This is an issue that needs to be dealt with now, Mr McKeever said, even though a new Government is not in place.

He said he expects that companies will be calling for support in a matter of weeks and the Government should be considering the problem now.