Exports by companies supported by Enterprise Ireland increased by 12% to a €27.29 billion last year - the highest level of export growth ever recorded by EI supported firms in value terms.
Strong increases were experienced across almost all sectors in 2021, according to the state agency responsible for helping Irish companies to grow and expand in international markets.
Exports grew across all territories, and despite the uncertainty caused by the changed trading relationship between the UK and Ireland, exports to this market totalled €8.43bn - a rise of 15%. The UK accounts for almost one-third (31%) of our export trade.
Enterprise Ireland said diversification has been a key focus of its work in recent years, and exports by client companies to the Eurozone increased by 10% last year, totalling €6.04bn and accounting for over one-fifth (22%) of total exports.
The next largest market was North America, which saw a 14% increase, bringing total exports to €4.87bn. This important market, our third largest, now accounts for 18% of total exports from Enterprise Ireland supported companies.
Food exports increased by 6%, accounting for over €12.91bn or 47% of total exports.
Exports from construction firms increased by almost one-quarter (24%) totalling €2.89bn in 2021, in 2021, while consumer retail exports rose by 13% to €1.09bn.
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Exports from Enterprise Ireland- backed digital technology firms rose by more than one-fifth to a value of €1.53bn. While exports from the engineering sector rose by 14% in 2021 to €1.82bn.
Leo Clancy, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, said these exceptionally strong export results follow on from the record number of net new jobs created in companies supported by Enterprise Ireland last year.
"There has been positive growth across most sectors and regions, and Enterprise Ireland clients contributed €31bn to the domestic economy last year in employment and in purchases of materials and services.
"While the UK remains our largest trading partner it is good to see that our strategy to grow exports in other key markets, especially the Eurozone, continues to pay dividends," he said.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar said the results were really impressive and a testament to the hard work and resilience of thousands of Irish enterpreneurs and their staff across the country.
"It is quite remarkable that despite the headwinds we faced last year, not least the realisation of Brexit and the continuing effects of the pandemic, Irish business managed to have a record year for exports - 12% up on the previous year," the Tánaiste said. "Behind these figures today are thousands of jobs in every county in the country."
Mr Varadkar acknowledged the challenges still ahead, notably the global inflation crisis and Putin's war on Ukraine which he said "are putting huge pressure on energy supplies, providing another impetus on business to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and do what they can to become more efficient with their resources".
Despite the challenges in the first six months of this year, Enterprise Ireland clients have recorded positive growth in the first half of 2022 including; 561 new overseas contracts, 85% of which are outside the UK, 199 new overseas presences and 93 companies entered new markets.