A Brief History of the Irish Exporters AssociationThe Irish Exporters Association was incorporated in May 1951. At this time, the world economy was still in a state of dislocation from the devastation of the World War II and Ireland was desperately trying to build up its own economy within the vast framework of international trade.
Within weeks of the IEA being established, it started to suggest that the Government should consider introducing some sort of ‘incentive bonus’ in the form of tax relief to export manufacturers. The Association presented and successfully negotiated the idea of introducing tax-free profits on exports to the Revenue Commissioners. The advent of tax-free profits on exports was the springboard upon which both indigenous and foreign-owned companies expanded their international sales for decades to come.
Total Irish exports at this time were £72.4 million, which rose to £157m by the start of the 1960s. The protectionism of the 1950s gradually gave way to the freer trade of the 60s, a decade for opening up the economy and looking forward. The IEA continued to represent the interest of exporters through the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement of 1966 – an Agreement which forced the country to cope with the challenge and huge opportunity opened up by the advent of free trade.
The 70’s was a time when exporters started a concerted drive towards industrialisation and exporting of manufactured and agricultural products. The IEA continued to represent the interests of Irish exporters during Ireland’s entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973.
The 80’s saw a continuation of the difficult international situation for trade. International recession stunted the growth of Irish exports. The currency crisis of the late 80s saw one of the great campaigns of the IEA. Exporters started to see their hard earned profits dwindle through exchange losses in the wake of the rapidly falling punt following the de-linking from sterling. The IEA mastermined a series of campaigns designed to minimise the burden and heighten the need for a stable currency environment. These campaigns were to prove instrumental in accelerating Ireland’s entry into the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).
The 90s saw the emergence of the ‘Celtic Tiger’. A new sense of purpose became evident, which helped to create the climate where companies of all sizes and from all sectors felt that they could grow and prosper.
Exporting was and continues to be the locomotive driving the development of the economy. The IEA continues to represent the needs of export industry to ensure that the necessary conditions are created and the necessary support is provided to assist companies to maximise their export sales. The IEA draws its membership from every exporting sector, ensuring that the interests of all industries are represented and promoted at the highest level.