Thursday, 18 February 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
13. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which Irish exports to the UK and the European Union have fluctuated since Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9316/21]
14. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which levels of trade between Ireland and the UK, the UK and the EU, excluding Ireland, and each EU country have fluctuated since the imposition of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9317/21]
23. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which trade with non-EU countries including the UK had progressed and continued since 1 January 2021 in the context of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9326/21]
26. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he continues to monitor the import and export sectors with a view to measuring the impact of Brexit and-or Covid-19 on the economy generally if particular issues arise which might require attention in this context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9329/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 13, 14, 23 and 26 together.
The Central Statistics Office compiles statistical data on Goods Exports and Imports. The latest figures available relate to exports and imports for the month of December 2020 and for the year 2020. As statistics are not yet available for the month of January 2021, it is not yet possible to measure any impact on trade between Ireland and the UK, the EU or non-EU countries since 1 January 2021.
The latest Goods Exports and Imports release from the Central Statistics Office, dated 15 February 2021, shows that the value of goods exports from Ireland rose to €160.8bn in 2020 which is the highest level on record. The value of goods exports increased by €8.3bn or 5.4% when compared to 2019. The total value of imports to Ireland in 2020 was €85,367 million. The value of imports decreased compared to 2019, falling by €5,495 million (-6%).
The EU accounted for €63,859 million (40%) of total exports in 2020, an increase of €7,211 million (+13%) on 2019. The EU accounted for €30,329 million of imports in 2020, representing 36% of total imports. This was a decrease of €2,969 million (-9%) on 2019. As the UK had exited the EU on January 31st 2020, the data comparing EU trade in 2019 and 2020 excludes the UK for both periods for comparative purposes.
Exports to non-EU countries (excluding the UK) were valued at €82,457 million in 2020, which is an increase of €2,360 million (+3%) on the 2019 level of exports. The US continues to be Ireland’s biggest single goods export market, accounting for €49,845 million or 31% of total exports in 2020. Imports from non-EU countries (excluding the UK) totalled €35,522 million in 2020, a decrease of €1,654 million (-4%) on the 2019 level of imports.
Exports to Great Britain in 2020 were valued at €12,399 million, which is a decrease of €1,183 million (-9%) compared with 2019. Exports to Great Britain accounted for 8% of total exports in 2020.
Imports from Great Britain in 2020 were €17,812 million, a decrease of €861 million (-5%) when compared with 2019, meaning there was a trade deficit of €5,413 million with Great Britain in 2020. Imports from Great Britain accounted for 21% of total imports in 2020.
My Department continues to monitor the performance of the import and export sectors as the outlook for exports to the UK, Eurozone and rest of the world is being impacted by both Brexit and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The long-term response to Brexit is for companies across all sectors to become more competitive, more innovative and to diversify their export footprint into more international markets. My Department’s 2021 budget allocation of €1.13bn represents an increase of €154 million or 15.9% on the 2020 allocation. This is in addition to €100 million earmarked from the Recovery Fund for Brexit. This is a record allocation and will significantly bolster the capability of our enterprise and regulatory agencies to help businesses examine their Brexit exposure, seek advice, avail of customs training and make plans to protect their business.
Enterprise Ireland’s ambition for 2021 is to sustain Irish jobs and exports and increase the resilience of the enterprise base with a view to ensuring global exports retain their pre-pandemic, pre-Brexit value of €25.6 bn. The agency’s focus will be on supporting clients to adapt and succeed in a post-Brexit environment, sustaining existing export sales and accelerating the diversification of Irish exports. While the UK will remain a major market for Irish companies, expanding the Irish export market in markets beyond the UK will continue to be a priority.
In recent years the majority of Ministerial-led Trade Missions have taken place to the Eurozone, North America and Asia Pacific, which represented the strongest growth opportunities for Irish companies. These Trade Missions focused on promoting the innovative capabilities and competitive offerings of Irish companies to international buyers in sectors including internationally traded services, fintech, high-tech construction, engineering, ICT and lifesciences. In 2020, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, promotion of our companies abroad continued through the work of our State agencies, and, in particular, their offices located on the ground internationally.
My Department is currently finalising a Ministerial led Trade Mission Programme for 2021. At this stage, it is envisaged that such a programme will contain a mix of virtual and actual trade missions. At the same time, Enterprise Ireland will continue to support companies to sustain their existing export sales and to increasingly diversify their export markets. This will include strengthening sales and marketing capability of companies, with a particular focus on remote/virtual channels and providing targeted financial and advisory supports to companies adversely impacted upon by COVID-19 and Brexit to support their adaptation to the challenging market environment.
As well as the global efforts supported by our agencies, key to our success in growing exports has been our commitment to trade liberalisation in order to open new markets for our indigenous sectors. With a small domestic market, further expansion in other markets is essential to our continued economic growth and, in this regard, Ireland will continue to support the EU’s ambitious programme of negotiating new Free Trade Agreements, opening new markets for Irish companies and increasing export and investment opportunities.