Ireland sent €86.9bn worth of goods overseas last year, but where did they end up?

Total value of exports down 5% as US increases status as State’s largest goods market

Ships in Dublin Port being loaded with goods for export. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Ships in Dublin Port being loaded with goods for export. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Thu, Mar 13, 2014, 01:42

Irish exporters shipped €86.9 billion worth of goods to more than 200 countries and territories last year. They sold snails to France, guns to Cyprus, pig fat to China and false teeth to Kuwait.

A sharp fall in chemical and pharmaceutical output is the most notable development in detailed external goods trade data obtained from the Central Statistics Office.

The total value of Irish goods exports fell by 5 per cent (€4.8 billion), as the impact of blockbuster drugs produced in the State coming off-patent showed.

Despite the fall-off in chemical exports, the US increased its status as the State’s largest goods export market, growing by almost 1.3 per cent to some €18.4 billion.

The US, where some blockbuster drugs came off patent earlier, was one of the few growth markets for chemicals and related products (up €127 million to €12.8 billion), which accounted for more than two-thirds of total exports.

Britain (€12.5 billion) was the second largest market, with sharp drops in chemicals (down €960 million) and fuel (down €464 million) the main drivers in an 8.6 per cent goods trade decrease.

Food and livestock up
More than one-third of the €8.7 billion of food and livestock exported from Ireland last year went to Britain, with the category rising by €181 million to €3.45 billion. Beef , both fresh and frozen, accounted for some 20 per cent of the total.

The State’s top five export markets were rounded off by Belgium (down 17.6 per cent to €11.2 billion), Germany (down 11.9 per cent to €6.5 billion) and Switzerland (up 0.9 per cent to €5.1 billion), with chemicals trade again a negative factor.

Less well-known destinations such as Timor-Leste (€1,750), Kiribati (€2,000), Vanuatu (€2,000), Aruba (€3,000) and the Turks and Caicos Islands (€3,000) were among the State’s smallest export markets.

Vanuatu bought airplane and helicopter parts, Turks and Caicos purchased processing machinery, Timor-Leste imported medical instruments, and Kiribati took plastic furniture and stamps.

Exports to the Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies amounted to some €2.58 billion last year, and increased in three of the four countries.

Trade with China, the largest market of the four, fell by 9.4 per cent to €1.4 billion, with falls in machinery and transport equipment (down €238 million) and chemicals (down €113 million) being partly offset by food and livestock exports (up €112 million).

The figures show a 19.9 per cent rise in exports to India to €281.2 million, with Brazil up 2.4 per cent to €261.9 million and Russia rising 5.7 per cent to €637 million.