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Irish exports hit highest level ever with 5.5% increase to €182billion in 2012 – Minister Bruton

Total exports in 2012, at €182.182billion, were at their highest level ever after a 5.5% annual increase, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said today (Thursday).

Total exports now 16% above pre-crisis high

Services trade receives boost under Irish Presidency with mandate for international talks agreed

21st March 2013

Total exports in 2012, at €182.182billion, were at their highest level ever after a 5.5% annual increase, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said today (Thursday).

In 2011, total exports increased by 5.3% over the 2010 figure.

The figures, released this morning by the CSO, show that total exports in 2012 were 16% higher than the 2007 figure, the pre-crisis high, and that total exports from Ireland are now at their highest level ever.

Other key points in the publication include:

·      The total trade surplus in 2012 was €46billion, the highest level ever

·      Services exports in 2012 reached a new record of €90.218billion, representing an increase of 11% over 2011

·      Computer services is the largest services export category, with exports in this category hitting €36.5 billion in 2012, representing an increase of 15% over 2011. Computer exports account for 40% of the value of Irish services exports in 2012

Commenting on the figures, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, said:

“A strong export performance will be crucial to delivering the economic recovery we are all working so hard to achieve. Through the Action Plan for Jobs, the Government is determined to rebuild a sustainable economy based on enterprise, innovation and exports, and we are delivering on measures to deepen and develop the impact of multinational investment here and to make it easier for Irish companies to export more.

“It is clear to me from the trade and investment missions I have travelled on that while conditions in international markets remain difficult, Irish companies and multinational companies based in Ireland are working very hard and can compete with the very best on the global stage. 

“Other positive signs including the major jobs announcements we have seen recently – including the 260 jobs announced today by Yahoo and McAfee –  as well as the GDP figures released today show that there are real reasons for optimism about the transition that is occurring in our economy.

“Today’s figures also show that the ICT sector, which is a particular target in the Government’s plans, is performing extremely strongly with a 15% increase in computer services exports in 2012. Since we have taken office more than 11,000 additional jobs have been created in ICT, and today’s export figures show that we are well-placed to continue this jobs growth.

“The challenge now is to build on these strengths. Through the Action Plan for Jobs and also through the Irish Presidency of the EU, I am determined to continue implementing change to make it easier for Irish exporters. Even today we have seen the very welcome news that the EU Council has given the green light to start negotiating a multi country agreement on trade in services.

“Major challenges remain but I am convinced that with continued strong implementation we can help drive for the export-led jobs recovery we need”.


Minister Bruton has travelled on a total of 14 major trade and investment missions in the 24 months since taking office. They comprise:

·      Five IDA investment missions to the USA, two to the east coast, two to the west coast and one encompassing the East Coast, South and Mid-West

·      Five Enterprise Ireland trade missions, one to Texas, one to the south-eastern USA, one to Saudi Arabia and India, one to Canada and one to France accompanied by a total of well over 100 Irish companies looking to break into new export markets

·      A 7-day joint EI/IDA mission to China led by the Taoiseach

·      A 5-day EI/IDA trip to the west coast of the USA built around St Patrick’s Day 2012

·      A 4-day EI/IDA mission to Germany built around St Patrick’s Day 2013

·      A 2-day mission to Germany around St Patrick’s Day 2011, including a series of meetings arranged by Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland. 

Export figures

The CSO figures are available at:

Key points for 2012 include:

·      Ireland’s Services exports for 2012 reached a new record of over €90 bn (€90.218 bn) representing an increase of 11 % over 2011. 

·      With services imports at €87.257 bn in 2012, this means that Ireland now has a trade surplus in services of €3 bn.

·      Computer Services is the largest Services export category, with exports of €36.5 bn in 2012, an increase of 15% on the same period of 2011.  Other categories showing strong performances were Business Services, Insurance and Financial Services.

·      Computer Services accounted for 40% of the value of Ireland’s Services exports in 2012.

Taken together with data from the CSOs release, Goods Exports and Imports the value of total exports from Ireland in 2012 is now available.  Key points –

·      Total Exports for 2012 (Goods + Services) totalled €182.182 bn, the highest ever, representing an increase of 5.5%, and the total Trade Surplus in 2012 was €46 bn, also the highest ever.

·      The increase by 5.5% in total exports in 2012 follows a 5.3% increase in total exports in 2011.

·      Goods accounted for 50.5% and Services 49.5% of Ireland’s exports by value in 2012.

Services Plurilateral

This week the EU Council gave the green light to the Commission to start negotiating a multi country agreement on trade in services. While discussions have been taking place for a year or so they now move into a higher gear in Geneva this week, among members of the WTO that are some of the largest importers and exporters of services.[1]   

These countries account for about 70% of global cross border trade in services. The Group hopes to attract other economies with an interest in freeing up services trade around the world. The agreement would deliver a boost for international services trade and especially for the EU. For the EU the value of services exports rose from €1,193.5 bn in 2007 to €1,363.4 bn in 2011, or up by over 14% despite the global recession.

The proposal for a new international agreement on trade in services follows guidance issued by WTO Ministers at the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2011. Recognising the difficulties in advancing the Doha Development Agenda and its objective to liberalise trade in services, WTO Ministers encouraged WTO members to advance elements of the Doha talks and earlier than the full conclusion of the Single Undertaking.

In this spirit, a group of 21 WTO Members expressed a willingness to advance negotiations in the area of trade in services and started to explore the possibility of concluding a stand- alone agreement on trade in this sector. Discussions on the broad objectives of the agreement took place during 2012 and are now moving into a more intensive phase in Geneva with the Commission receiving a negotiating mandate under the Irish Presidency. Any final agreement will be based on the wider WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and it is hoped it will be a transitional vehicle to a new and wider multilateral services agreement once the agreed conditions for its “multilateralisation” have been met. 


For More Information Contact:

Press Office, Department of Jobs Enterprise & Innovation, t: +353 1 631 2200.


[1] Comprises the EU, Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong-Kong China, Iceland, Israel, Japan, the republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States of America.

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