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Ireland reports exports are up . . . and down

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Stephen McKinley

Ireland Minister for International Trade Tom Kitt welcomed Ireland’s strong trade performance in recent months.

“Even in the difficult international trading environment this year, Ireland’s export growth has remained strong,” Kitt said in a statement lasst week.

January-through-July trade measured _42.6 billion ($54.1 billion) and Ireland’s three biggest export markets, the U.S., the UK, and Germany, all showed considerable growth.

Kitt added that Ireland was looking for new niches in East Asia and South America.

Meanwhile, Irish manufacturing shrunk in October for the third straight month, an industry survey said, with the contraction the largest in the NCB Stockbrokers survey’s three-year history.

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NCB’s Purchasing Managers’ Index, a survey of 285 Irish manufacturing companies, fell to a seasonally adjusted 46.1 in October from 47.7 in September.

“There is little good news in this report,” Eunan King, an economist at NCB, said.

Companies surveyed for the report said overseas and domestic demand is sagging. Orders for new goods fell as foreign demand declined for the sixth straight month, the report said.

RTE losses

RTE reported losses of _11.23 million last year, according to latest figures.

RTE’s annual report actually reported a much higher loss, of _18.37 million, but other revenue sources made up the difference.

Bob Collins, RTE’s director general, insisted that RTE’s primary role as a public service broadcaster meant that it could not turn toward more commercial revenue.

He added that “without the security of an appropriate level of funding whose real value is maintained by indexation,” it is simply impossible to meet rising public expectations in a country as small as Ireland.

Don a white coat, kids

Intel Ireland has warned that there has been a dwindling of interest in the sciences among school children in recent years.

The company says that it “views with alarm” the decline in interest in physics and chemistry, and a report notes, “these trends must be reversed if we are to sustain and grow the vibrant high-tech industries that have contributed to our strong economy.”

Fisherman’s blues

Commercial fishing on Lough Neagh is not an industry that springs to mind often, but it has sustained a small number of fishermen and their families for many years.

Now, the men and craft that have plied the waters of the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles need help — an association has been formed to help the industry stay alive. Twenty years ago there were 212 boats, while today that number has fallen to 80. In 1980, one boat could make _800, now two to three men have to share _750.

Patricia Campbell, spokesperson for the association, said that the fishermen needed to organize quickly and effectively.

“We need training, a pension scheme, investment in infrastructure along the lough shore and help with developing fish stocks,” she said.

Mine losses

Navan, Co. Meath, is reeling from the news that 700 workers at the Tara Mine will be laid off for three months beginning Nov. 17.

The Finnish-owned lead and zinc mine is the biggest in Europe, but with mines also closing in the U.S. and Canada as a result low zinc prices, many believe the Tara shutdown will last longer than three months.

Also 320 jobs were lost at the AFL car components firm in Dundalk, Co. Louth. The county has lost 1,800 jobs since January.

Also hit was Carlow, where 100 temporary workers at the Braun electrical appliances company were put on notice they were to be laid off. With 900 jobs, Braun is Carlow’s biggest employer.

Got milk?

Farmers won big last week when an abandoned _20 million tax break for the agricultural community was revived in its original state by Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy.

Dairy farmers had started legal proceedings over a block on tax relief on milk quota purchases by the European Commission,

“This tax relief is of major importance to dairy farmers and will mean a tax saving of over _20 million for quota purchased to date,” the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association said in a statement.

It’s a gas

The future of Bord Gais, the Irish gas board, may be decided by a new move by the state-run company to sell part of its Irish Sea gas connector with Scotland to a private company in order to raise funds for a new undersea pipeline parallel with its existing link.

Ed O’Connell, who succeeds Michael Conlon as company chairperson next Friday, will give the matter full consideration. O’Connell comes to the task laden with experience from his time as chair of the Irish National Petroleum Corporation, recently sold to Tosco in the U.S., which is controlled by Phillips Petroleum.

Thus, some seasoned observers reckon O’Connell will do the same privatization-fixing job on Bord Gais, though it may be put on ice until after next summer’s general election.

New New York mag

A new business magazine aimed at women in business is heading for New York. Called Women’s Business New York, it will initially be sent free to 50,000 business women monthly.

Publisher Viki Donlan started the magazine in Boston and has decided to move to the world’s publishing capital in spite of the severe advertising downturn.

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