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Coveney says agriculture based 'Biosector' is key to export earnings

Sector accounts for 40% of Ireland's net foreign earnings from merchandise exports

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today announced the publication by his Department of a report which highlights the importance of the agri-food sector to Ireland’s economy.

"The report estimates that, in 2008, the 'biosector'* contributed 40% of net foreign earnings from merchandise exports. This is more than double the sector's contribution to exports", said the Minister. The main reasons for the sector’s large contribution to net foreign earnings are lower import requirements per euro of exports, and higher receipts of EU payments. The report finds that, in 2008, the biosector accounted for 40 percent (over €8 billion) of Ireland’s net foreign earnings from merchandise exports. This is more than double the biosector's 19 percent share (almost €16 billion) of merchandise exports in that year.

Another way of expressing these results is in terms of balance of payment flows per €100 of merchandise exports.  Put this way, in 2008, every €100 of exports from the biosector generated €52 in net foreign earnings.  This compares with every €100 of exports from the non-biosector, which generated only €19 in net foreign earnings. "This report underlines the key contribution which the agri-food sector can make to an export-led economic recovery", Minister Coveney concluded.

Note to Editors

*The 'biosector' comprises the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, as well as the industries processing their products, namely the food and beverage industries. In total, these industries comprise a large part of Ireland's natural resource based industries and are distinguished by the biological origin of their products.  For this reason the report refers to this group of industries as the ‘biosector’, to distinguish its coverage from any narrower definition of the agri-food sector.

This report was prepared by the Department's Economics and Planning Division, under the supervision of Brendan Riordan, research economist, whose 2008 report on this topic, details below, also describes the methodology that was largely used to arrive at the results reported above. B. Riordan (2008): The net contribution of the agri-food sector to the inflow of funds into Ireland: a new estimate, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, 2008

The report's findings for 2008 are provisional, and will be revised in the light of new CSO data to be published later this year.  The report also updates the previously published estimate for 2005 (32%) in the light of revised CSO data and methodology - the revised estimate of the contribution of the biosector to net foreign earnings of merchandise exports in 2005 is also 40%. The report will be available on the Department's website:

Date Released: 23 July 2012