Irish exports lift as euro zone exits recession

Zone returns to growth after longest recession since euro was created in 1999


There are indications that Ireland emerged out of recession between April and June, following yesterday’s confirmation that the euro zone as a whole has returned to growth.

The EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, confirmed that the euro zone exited recession in the second quarter of the year.

The detailed figures for Ireland will not be issued until next month, but Irish export data released yesterday by the Central Statistics Office suggests Ireland has also come out of recession.

Euro zone gross domestic product, the widest measure of economic activity, expanded by 0.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2013 compared with the previous quarter.

The expansion followed six consecutive quarters of contraction – the longest recession since the euro was created in 1999.

Irish goods exports rose 2.3 per cent between the first and second quarters, after a period of protracted weakness. This can be expected to push up overall GDP.

Other indicators for the second quarter also point to renewed growth: the services sector, which accounts for most activity in the Irish economy, grew by 2.4 per cent.

Euro-zone growth was driven by the two biggest national economies in the 18-country bloc, Germany and France. Germany, which accounts for 30 per cent of the euro-zone economy, grew by 0.7 per cent on the quarter. France grew by 0.5 per cent, the strongest rate of growth since 2011.

Among the countries for which figures were published, Portugal recorded the strongest growth in the second quarter, expanding by 1.1 per cent.

Lorcan Roche Kelly, chief Europe strategist at TrendMacro, a US fund advisory firm, said the euro-area GDP numbers were at odds with ECB lending data, which showed continuing reductions in credit to small and medium- sized companies.

Without increasing credit to this critical sector, any return to vigorous growth was nearly impossible.