I thank the Deputy for raising this issue.
The long-term response to Brexit is for companies across all sectors to become more competitive, more innovative and to diversify their export footprint into more international markets. The agencies under my Department have a wide range of supports available to enable companies to consolidate market share within the UK, and to become more resilient by broadening their sales to other international markets. These include a €300 million Brexit loan scheme for eligible businesses with up to 499 employees and the future growth loan scheme, which will make a fund of up to €300 million available to SMEs for terms of eight to ten years.
CSO trade data show that in 2015, 14% or €31 billion of the total value of goods and services imported into Ireland was from the UK. In 2018, this percentage remained at 14%, although the value increased to €39 billion. The total value of goods and services imported into Ireland increased from €223.1 billion in 2015 to €275.9 billion in 2018.
In 2015, 16% or €37.1 billion of the value of total goods and services exports was to the UK. In 2018, this reduced to 14% or €43.8 billion. Even though the value went up, the percentage came down. In the period 2015 to 2018, the value of total exports from Ireland increased by €77.6 billion or 33%, to a record level of €316 billion.
In 2018, the dependency on the UK as a destination for Enterprise Ireland client company exports reduced to 33%, down from 44% in 2007. While the UK is, and will remain, a major market for Irish companies, expanding the Irish export footprint in markets beyond the UK is a key priority. Against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, Enterprise Ireland client companies achieved record levels of exports in 2018 of €23.8 billion. The eurozone region saw growth of 7.6% to €4.8 billion, with Germany, France and the Netherlands each exceeding €1 billion in exports. Exports to North America increased from €3.87 billion in 2017 to €4.08 billion in 2018, an increase of 5.5%.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Ministerial-led trade missions support the Government's major drive towards market diversification. These missions are taking place to regions which represent the strongest growth opportunities for Irish exporters. Their focus is on promoting the innovative capabilities and competitive offerings of Irish companies to international buyers in sectors including internationally traded services, FinTech, high-tech construction, engineering, ICT and life sciences.
As well as the global efforts supported by our agencies, key to our success has been our commitment to trade liberalisation in order to open new markets for our indigenous sectors. With a small domestic market, further expansion in other markets is essential to our continued economic growth and, in this regard, Ireland will continue to support the EU's ambitious programme of negotiating new free trade agreements, opening new markets for Irish companies and increasing export and investment opportunities.