Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
213. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which trade opportunities continue to open up for Ireland following the double impact of Brexit and Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30414/21]
215. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which Ireland’s trade with EU countries has increased sufficiently to compensate for any losses arising from Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30416/21]
216. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the degree to which trade volumes are set to grow in the months ahead with particular reference to the need to achieve an early post-Covid-19 recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30417/21]
217. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which new trade prospects have become available to compensate for losses arising from Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30418/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 213, 215, 216 and 217 together.
As the Deputy will appreciate, 2020 export performance and the outlook for 2021 exports to the UK, Eurozone and rest of the world continues to be significantly impacted by both Brexit and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Brexit has fundamentally changed the trading relationship between Ireland and the UK and will continue to impact that trading relationship.
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.
Notwithstanding the challenges posed by the double impact of both Brexit and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the CSO’s preliminary statistical data for 2020 shows that goods exports were valued at €160,814 million in 2020, the highest total on record. This is an increase of €8,280 million (+5%) over 2019.
It is too early, based on statistics for the first quarter of 2021, to get a real sense of the impact that Brexit will have on longer term trade flows as there are other contributory factors, not least COVID-19 that has also had a chilling economic effect. Analysis of trade flows over a longer period of time would be required to allow for sound conclusions to be drawn about future trade volumes.
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 will be 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.