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The Net Contribution of the Agri-Food Sector to the Inflow of Funds to Ireland

The agri-food sector makes a very significant contribution to the net inflow of funds to the Irish economy. Analysis[1]  completed by economist Brendan Riordan highlights that the net foreign earnings of the ‘biosector’[2]  contributes approximately 30% of the total net earnings from primary and manufacturing industries. This is approximately double the sector’s contribution to exports. The main reasons for the sector’s disproportionately large net contribution to earnings from exports are;

  • its low import dependence, accounting for half of all purchased Irish goods and services by the manufacturing industry, and
  • the low levels of profit repatriation among its processing firms.

This contribution is also reflected by the fact that for every €100 of exports, the ‘biosector’ accounts for significantly higher net foreign earnings than the ‘non-biosector’. In 2005 this was €48 for the ‘biosector’ as opposed to €19 for the ‘non-biosector’. The largest disparity between the ‘biosector’ and the ‘non-biosector’ was in the import content of exports. These were €38 per €100 euro in the ‘biosector’, but €58 per €100 euro of exports in the ‘non-biosector’.  

Further research will be carried out in 2011 to update this study with more recent data.


[1] Brendan Riordan, “The Net Contribution of the Agri-Food Sector to the Inflow of Funds into Ireland: a New Estimate”, May 2008

[2] Agriculture, forestry and fishing as well as the industries processing their products, namely the food, beverage and tobacco industries