Trade surplus rises 32% in November
Ireland's trade surplus rose by 32 per cent in November, new data from the Central Statistics Office showed today.
Exports were up 7.4 per cent in November 2012 while imports fell 11.4 per cent. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus was €4.3 billion in November, up from €3.6 billion in October 2012.
Ireland recorded an overall trade surplus of €41 billion for the first 11 months of last year.
Exports totalled €8.3 billion in November 2012, an increase from the €7.4 billion recorded in October. The strong recovery in exports in November means that volumes have recovered to July 2012 levels following a sharp decline in September last year. However, exports were down 3.5 per cent for the year ending November 2012 when compared with the same period in 2011.
Meanwhile, total imports for November were €3.9 billion compared to €4.3 billion in October 2012.
Previously released industrial production data had pointed to a modest decline in 'chemicals and related products' in November. This has been attributed to the expiration of pharmaceutical patents during this time. In the event, exports in this segment in fact increased almost 20 per cent to €5.2bn from October to November.
As a result, some economists believe there may be a lag between industrial production data and exports, meaning that further declines may be realised in subsequent months.
Merrion economist Alan McQuid said he believes the export sector has been the main driver of Irish economic activity in recent times and will remain the key growth engine for some period to come. However, he voiced concerns over the sustainability of the chemical sector and agrees that the so-called ‘patent cliff’ will impact negatively on output in the next few months.
“Ireland’s overall export performance will suffer in the coming months as a result (of patent expiration), denting the country’s economic growth in turn. But, judging by today’s figures the weakness in pharmaceuticals is being offset by strength in other areas, namely organic chemicals,” he said.