RTTNews - Thursday, the Irish Exporters Association, or IEA, said the country's exports in the first quarter fell 9.6% year-on-year hit by global economic downturn. The association warned that unemployment in the sector would increase substantially if the government does not provide additional stimulus for the sector.

Total exports for the first quarter stood at EUR 33.78 billion, down from EUR 37.38 billion in the same period last year. The association forecasts exports to fall 13% in 2009, with a loss of export revenue worth EUR 20.2 billion and direct job losses of some 91,000.

John Whelan, Chief Executive of the IEA said, The knock-on effect of job losses on this scale on the economy, however, is much greater as each export job supports two other jobs in the community.

Merchandise exports showed a decline of 3.4% in the first quarter, while exports of services fell 18%.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com