Irish businesses say global market and economic uncertainty, supply chain, inflation and energy costs are their biggest challenges for the next six months.
A survey of Enterprise Ireland client companies attending International Markets Week has found that 84% of exporters plan to enter new international markets over the next 12 months, despite ongoing market uncertainty and concerns around issues such as supply chain, energy costs and inflation.
It comes as almost 600 client companies are set to take part in 1,800 export focused one-to-one engagements with Enterprise Ireland Market Advisors at International Markets Week (IMW).
“So far in 2022, we have seen our clients win a total of 882 new contracts and establish 325 overseas presences during challenging economic conditions, with support from Enterprise Ireland”
More than 130 advisors from 40 Enterprise Ireland overseas offices are attending the annual exporting focused event, which returns in-person to the RDS this week for the first time since 2019.
Results of the pre-IMW client company survey detailed how over one-in-three (35%) cited global market and economic uncertainty as the primary challenge for their business for the next six months. One in three (32%) expressed concerns about supply chain, price inflation and energy costs, while one in four (26%) cited skills and talent shortages as being the biggest challenge to their business.
Export sales rise
Leo Clancy, CEO of Enterprise Ireland. Image: Maxwells
Despite the challenging economic environment, there was a clear buoyancy about future business sentiment and strong optimism from the client companies that participated in the survey, as nine out of ten (91%) said they expect their exports to increase next year.
Almost two-thirds (59%) said their export sales have increased so far this year, when compared to last year, and almost one-third (32%) said they have remained stable.
“I am very encouraged, despite the difficulties presented by Brexit, Covid-19 and most recently market instability and decreased consumer confidence, that Irish businesses are continuing to show strength, resilience and adaptability in looking for new opportunities to sell internationally,” said Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English, TD.
“It has always been a priority of this Government to back Irish businesses and assist them through uncertain periods. I am pleased that the number of Enterprise Ireland companies entering new markets has increased and that companies remain positive and export-focused in a fast-changing world for the year ahead. International Markets Week provides an excellent opportunity for Irish companies to advance their ambition to expand, innovate and diversify their operations.”
A strong majority of the exporters surveyed (84%) are planning to enter new markets in 2023, with two-thirds (62%) of those stating that increasing their overseas market presence is their biggest priority for the next 12 months. Of those planning to enter new international markets next year, one-third said North America is the priority market for them in 2023, with 27% prioritising Europe and one-in-five (19%) citing the UK.
Almost three quarters of the businesses surveyed (74%) said that having green credentials with a sustainability policy in place is considered an important factor when competing to win new business overseas.
“It’s positive to see from our research that Irish exporters are optimistic for the next 12 months and reported export increases last year against the backdrop of a challenging global economic environment for businesses,” said Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy.
“So far in 2022, we have seen our clients win a total of 882 new contracts and establish 325 overseas presences during challenging economic conditions, with support from Enterprise Ireland. In line with Enterprise Ireland’s strategy ‘Leading in a Changing World’, resilient and internationally focused Irish enterprises will be the core driver of the Irish economy and we at Enterprise Ireland are proud to support them in achieving their ambitions through these changing times.
“The business optimism is a credit to the innovation and flexibility of Irish exporters who have overcome a range of obstacles in recent times including, Brexit and Covid-19 and are now facing a range of trading challenges in response to the uncertainty surrounding the war in Ukraine.
“It’s vital that the current inflationary pressures, especially increases in energy costs, don’t derail that recovery and we continue to support and grow employment opportunities across all regions. Enterprise Ireland will continue to support our clients to deal with these issues. We have a core programme prepared aimed at addressing energy costs and we will continue to examine ways in which our efforts can help companies this winter and in subsequent years,” Clancy said.