Enterprise Ireland has said that 2020 will be very challenging for many Irish exporters due to COVID-19.
The State agency responsible for helping Irish companies export to international markets, reported strong levels of export performance by its client companies in 2019, up 8% to €25.6 billion, year-on-year.
In 2019 Irish exports to the Eurozone region saw record growth of 15% to €5.6 billion, while exports to North America increased by 16% to €4.7 billon last year, the group said.
These performances reflect Enterprise Ireland’s emphasis on the importance of diversifying into new markets as a result of Brexit, the agency said.
'Paints A Different Picture'
However, Enterprise Ireland highlighted that the first half of 2020 paints a different picture to 2019.
It said that Irish companies trading internationally have been impacted in every market due to the global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Enterprise Ireland backed companies had already faced challenging circumstances due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit. Despite this, Irish exporters had a really strong year in 2019, with record levels of growth," said Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar.
“We have already put in place a range of measures to help businesses get through the unprecedented difficulties caused by COVID-19, including grants, low cost loans and deferred tax liabilities. We know we need to do more as our economy continues to reopen," he added.
New Contracts Decline
New contracts won by Enterprise Ireland-backed companies declined by 12% in the first half of 2020, the group said.
Enterprise Ireland said that approximately 1,000 of the groups client companies are currently impacted by COVID-19.
Of these 1,000 companies 75% reported that their exports have been impacted by COVID-19 and more than half saw a negative impact on cashflows.
The agency has warned that the impact on exporters for the latter half of 2020 will be very challenging and that they face the dual challenge of both dealing with the COVID-19 impact on their business and also the impending 1 January Brexit deadline.
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