Longford-Westmeath Minister of State with responsibility for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy TD, met with businesses from the region as part of Enterprise Ireland’s International Markets Week in recent times.
International Markets Week aims to highlight the opportunities and supports available for Irish exporting companies to achieve success internationally.
With a focus on key growth sectors including education, healthcare and engineering, Minister Troy engaged in virtual meetings with companies participating in International Markets Week, namely Athlone Institute of Technology and IO Systems.
I.O. Systems are specialists in the design, delivery, consultancy and maintenance services for automated materials handling systems and airport security systems, with headquarters in Athlone and offices in Japan and Dubai.
Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT ) has significantly grown its international student numbers over the past decade, but like all Higher Education Institutions, have been affected by challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and reduced numbers of International students travelling to Ireland.
“On the back of strong export results in 2019, many Enterprise Ireland companies started out this year in a strong, resilient position. However, the continued impacts of Covid-19 and impending Brexit deadline mean that it is more important than ever for Irish companies to increase their presence in existing markets and expand into new ones.
“It was an insightful discussion on market diversification this morning with just a few of the exemplary businesses and institutes using the Midlands as their base. The exporting sector will continue to be a strong engine for growth and jobs in the Irish economy as we rebuild after the pandemic. The Government has provided targeted grants and advisory services to address both these vital issues through our agencies, including Enterprise Ireland, and I would urge every exporting company to seek advice and support now.
“I wish the companies participating in International Markets Week every success in pursuing future opportunities that will arise and to increasing their presence in
A survey of Enterprise Ireland client companies attending this year’s International Markets Week showed contrasting fortunes for Irish exporters in 2020. While one in three saw their exports decline, some sectors, such as Lifesciences and Digital, saw export sales grow by 30 percent. Enterprise Ireland statistics show that export contracts signed by supported clients also fell 10% between January – September this year, compared to the same period last year.
Despite the impact of Covid-19, and the approaching Brexit deadline, many Irish exporters remain resilient and optimistic. According to the survey results:
57 percent expect to grow their exports in 2021
83 percent intend to hire new staff in 2021 and
More than eight in ten exporting companies are either confident or very confident about the international trading environment in 2021.
The survey also reveals how companies responded to Covid-19 and the necessary public health restrictions in place. During 2020 the main areas of focus and innovation were, remote working, customer engagement and virtual selling.
The survey also revealed that 85% of companies were expecting to see an increase of up to 10 percent in their cost base as a result of Brexit, although the majority of these companies expected the increase to be five percent or less. Recognising the threat posed by Brexit, in terms of future investment priorities, companies reported their priorities as, market diversification, innovation and research and competitiveness.