Irish President Michael Higgins visited Argentina, Brazil and China this month in an effort to boost economic ties with the region. In an email interview, Frank Barry, chair of international business and economic development at Trinity College Dublin, discussed Ireland’s trade strategy.
WPR: What are the key sectors and partner countries for Irish trade?
Frank Barry: One needs to distinguish between exports of Irish-owned (indigenous) companies and those of the foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) that use Ireland as an export platform from which to sell primarily into the European Union. Some 80 percent of total Irish exports are accounted for by foreign MNCs. These go primarily to continental Europe. Pharmaceuticals comprise the bulk of these exports at present, but other sectors such as information and communications technology, medical devices and international financial services are also significant. Indigenous exports are less high-tech, though there is a significant indigenous software sector. Agriculture and the food and drinks sector dominate indigenous exports, which at present go primarily to the U.K. and the rest of the EU.