, Published: 04/05/2014

Google has regained the position as Ireland’s top exporter, nudging out competition from other multinationals including Microsoft and Dell.

The Irish Exporters’ Association (IEA) issued the league table in association with Investec.

It said that Google Ireland saw its export turnover increase 36pc to €17bn last year.

The figure is so big because Google books is international sales revenue in Ireland. It then funnels billions of that to other entities in the form of royalties.

Last year, Google’s Irish unit reported “administrative expenses” of €11.9bn compared to €11bn in 2012. Much of those expenses consist of royalties that are paid to an offshore unit.

Microsoft’s Irish office also acts as a conduit for international sales, but both it and Google have significant presences here. Microsoft came second in the list of top exporters, with exports of €15bn.

Healthcare company Johnson & Johnson was third with export turnover of €10.5bn, while computer-maker Dell Products was fourth with €8.6bn.

Irish packaging company Smurfit Kappa made the fifth spot, with export turnover of €7.3bn. It has operations around the world and generates just a very small part of its revenue in Ireland.

Within the food and drink sector, Kerry Group was the biggest exporting company with exports of €5.2bn. In life sciences, Johnson & Johnson was top, with Pfizer second at €5bn of exports.

“It is no surprise that the ICT sector continues to perform as the leading export sector in the industry,” said IEA chief executive Simon McKeever. “The sector houses nine of the top 10 global software companies and 10 of the top global internet companies in Ireland.”

But he warned that growth in the Eurozone, where over 40pc of Ireland’s exports go, looks “increasingly uncertain”.

“We therefore must do more to diversify our export risk to focus on new and higher growth markets,” said Mr McKeever. “Recent calls for wage hikes are simply premature, however a cut in income taxes is badly needed, and we still need to get finance moving from our banks into our SMEs.”

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