Thursday, 12 February 2015
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
98. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide details on where Ireland stands in comparison with our European counterparts, with regards to export levels of indigenous small and medium enterprises; and his plans to improve our figures. [6346/15]
Trade by Enterprise Characteristics (TEC) data is compiled by the OECD in conjunction with Eurostat and other national statistical institutions. The TEC database aims to fill the information gap on actors involved in cross-border trade, and contains international annual trade data broken down by different categories of enterprises. However, comprehensive statistics answering all aspects of the Deputy’s query are not readily available, particularly with regard to ownership categorisation within the available pan-European datasets. The most recent year of analysis presented by the OECD is 2011, and outlines comparative data for exporting enterprises across a range of OECD member countries including European Union members.
As can be seen from Table 1 which follows, Ireland has a comparable number of exporting companies in the employment size category of 0-249 employees (equivalent to SME employment criteria. One note of caution in interpreting the above data is that the categorisation relates to employee size class only, and does not represent Small and Medium Sized Enterprises as defined at European level (which includes further criteria related to turnover and balance sheet information)), to European countries such as Denmark, Hungary and Sweden, and significantly exceeds countries including Italy, Germany, Finland, the UK and France.
In terms of value per enterprise (0-249 employees), Ireland ranks among the highest in the OECD area (in fact only exceeded by New Zealand). The figures also show that Ireland has higher than average numbers of large (250 + employee) firms that export as a percentage of the total enterprise base. This is a well-established characteristic of the Irish enterprise base, related to the high degree of foreign direct investment attracted to the country, and the high proportion of total exports accounted for by highly globalised multinationals operating within Ireland’s small open economy.
In relation to plans to increase the number of exporting firms in the economy, I as Minister have made the internationalisation of SMEs a major priority within the annual Action Plan for Jobs.
This effort is being driven by my Department, through Enterprise Ireland, the agency with responsibility for driving the growth of exports from Irish SMEs on world markets. The agency reported record international sales from its client base in 2013, with exports exceeding €17.1bn.
Scaling companies through exports is a key pillar of Enterprise Ireland’s 2014-2016 Strategy. Following a weaker global environment than expected in 2014, global growth is expected to strengthen moderately (3.8%) in 2015 (Source: IMF). Enterprise Ireland clients’ two biggest markets, the UK and US, are expected to continue to grow strongly. However, increasing downside risks, including the ongoing weakness in the Euro area, could impact on global growth.
Increasing exports means more jobs, and in 2014, Enterprise Ireland’s focus was on helping clients build their positions in markets where they are strong and adding to the infrastructure and supports to maximise opportunities for Irish companies in key High Growth Markets (HGMs).
Special efforts were targeted at developing client exports in High Growth Markets and, in 2014 Enterprise Ireland received sanction for 20 additional staff in these markets to help grow exports to €3bn by 2016.
Enterprise Ireland assisted clients secured more than 1,300 new customers and significant contracts (40% of new customers in HGMs), and its clients established 455 new presences in international markets (45% in HGMs).
In addition, Enterprise Ireland worked with early stage HPSU companies to help them secure 131 new international reference customers. Final export figures for 2014 are expected to be announced by Enterprise Ireland in Quarter 2 of this year.
Among the initiatives planned to further the internationalisation of SMEs in Ireland for 2015 are:
- Enterprise Ireland through its programmes and overseas office network will target support for clients to achieve €19 billion in exports in 2015.
- A programme of 18 overseas ministerial-led trade missions and events will take place in 2015.
- EI will implement a targeted programme to attract senior level key inward buyer visits from key companies to match Irish supply capability in key sectors.
- Continued focus on the Potential Exporters in the enterprise base, by hosting nine Potential Exporter Awareness Events, and nine Potential Exporter Workshops across the country. This will target over 700 companies to have significant engagement with the EI Potential Exporter Division during 2015.
I am confident that Enterprise Ireland’s focus on ensuring the right supports are available for clients at every stage of growth, coupled with its priority to develop strong, export-focused, ambitious Irish companies that can win new business abroad, will ensure that exports from indigenous SMEs will continue to grow.
Table 1: TEC Database – OECD – Comparison of OECD exporting entities 2011
|Country||Exporting Enterprises (0-249 employees) per 10,000 Population||Exporting Enterprises (0-249 employees) as % Total Exporting Enterprises (number)||Exporting Enterprises (0-249 employees) as % Total Exporting Enterprises (value)|
Source: Data extracted on 09 Feb 2015 from OECD Stat
Source: OECD TEC by sector and size class; OECD Total population