Trade gap grows slightly but exports register 7% increase
IRELAND’S TRADE gap increased marginally in May as both exports and imports of goods rose, according to figures published yesterday by the Central Statistics Office.
Compared with April, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 7 per cent, or €518 million, to €7.5 billion, with imports up 15 per cent, or €515 million, to almost €4.1 billion. That left the trade surplus at €3.45 billion, a similar level to the trade gap in April.
The monthly rise in exports partially reverses a downward trend since the multiyear monthly peak, registered in January of this year (see chart). The majority of exports were in chemicals and related products, which amounted to €4.5 billion, some 60 per cent of the total exports for the month.
“It is encouraging that exports in this key sector have not fallen further, given concerns about the expiry of drug patents and cost-cutting measures in the industry and disappointing exports in this category in April,” Glas Securities said in a note. “However data from this sector will be monitored closely in the coming months for signs of any weakness.”
Year-on-year, the medical and pharmaceutical sector showed a five per cent increase, with organic chemicals increasing by nine per cent. Ireland’s main export market remained the EU, which accounted for 58 per cent, or €4.4 billion, of the total value of exports in May. Britain, Belgium and Germany accounted for 36 per cent.
The US was the main destination for exports outside the EU, taking 23 per cent of total exports.
Imports in May were very much in line with monthly averages over the past 12 months. Figures in the early months of this year were volatile owing to purchases of aircraft. Such items can cause large fluctuations. Imports have yet to recover from the sharp downturn experienced since the recession began.