Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Questions (18, 19)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

13 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation while harvesting the State’s competitive advantage in computer services and chemicals, if he will detail his plans to diversify in real terms into other sectors in order to reduce dependency on those sectors. [4129/12]

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Martin Ferris

Question:

27 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation while harvesting the State’s competitive advantage in computer services and chemicals, his plans to diversify in real terms into other sectors in order to reduce dependency on those sectors. [4138/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 27 together.

The Pharmaceutical and ICT sectors make a very significant contribution to the Irish economy in terms of export earnings and employment. The Medical, Pharmaceutical and Chemical sectors accounted for €46 billion, or 51%, of total Merchandise exports in 2010. Computer components and electronics accounted for €8 billion of Merchandise exports, while computer services accounted for €28.2 billion, or 38%, of all Services exports in 2010. Between them, the two sectors employ over 110,000 people in Ireland. These sectors will therefore continue to play an important role in the Irish economy.

However, building a strong enterprise mix can ensure that Ireland is not overly reliant on a limited number of sectors for future growth. We must also seek to capture the opportunities afforded by the growth of emerging sectors, with a view to maximising the employment potential they offer. Ireland cannot be leader in every sector. But there are many sectors where we can create and sustain a competitive edge. Sectors which have been identified as holding particular potential for Ireland include Agri-food, Health and Life sciences, Digital Games, the Green Economy, International Education and International Financial Services.

Within the Chemicals and ICT sectors, new sub-sectors are also emerging which afford employment opportunities for Ireland, including in "Silver technologies", nutraceuticals and Cloud Computing. The Government is also committed to supporting more mature sectors such as Tourism and Manufacturing to avail of new opportunities and improve their product offering.

Ireland has established a strong platform in Financial Services, Medical Devices and Food to mention some areas, and achieved strong growth in these sectors in recent years. Our agencies are constantly assessing emerging sectoral opportunities that offer a good fit for Ireland. A Research Prioritisation exercise has been undertaken to identify how research spending should be channelled to maximise opportunities. The Government will shortly be publishing its 2012 Action Plan for Jobs which will set out a series of clear actionable measures across Government to support the creation and retention of jobs in the sectors outlined above.