The Irish Exporters' Association (IEA) has lowered its forecast for export growth this year after an unexpectedly weak third quarter of 2011.

Issuing its third quarter review, the IEA said it now expected Irish exports to grow by 5% this year, down from the 7% it predicted at the start of the year.

The IEA said total exports in the third quarter were up only 1.7% compared with the same period last year, with a 3% drop in exports of manufactured goods.

For the first nine months of the year, exports are up 5.4% overall, with manufactured goods 3.5% ahead and services exports up 7.9%.


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The IEA said the agri-food sector maintained its strong growth in the third quarter, but there was a slowdown in the pharma/chemical sector, as well as a fall in computer hardware exports.

IEA chief executive John Whelan said Irish companies were increasing their share of the world services market, but losing market share in goods exports. The IEA said growth in goods exports is lagging behind below global trade growth.

He said a "weak and bumpy" recovery seemed to be emerging in world trade, and Irish exporters needed to expand their customer base, particularly to rapidly-growing markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.