Five companies account for 43% of Ireland’s goods exports in 2022

Pharmaceutical-related products accounted for almost two-thirds of Irish goods exports last year

The five highest value exporters accounted for more than €88 billion of the record €208 billion worth of merchandise exported from Ireland in 2022

Just five large multinational enterprises accounted for 43 per cent of Ireland’s goods exports last year, according to new data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The agency’s full-year trade statistics reveal “the five highest value exporters” accounted for more than €88 billion of the record €208 billion worth of merchandise exported from Ireland in 2022. The top 50 enterprises exported three-quarters of total goods, equal to €155 billion, the agency said.

The figures show that pharma-related products accounted for almost two-thirds or €134 billion in Irish goods exports last year.

Although the CSO does not name the five companies driving the bulk of this trade, the list is likely to include US pharma giant Pfizer, which has several large plants here.


The company’s solid-dose pharmaceuticals manufacturing facility in Newbridge, Co Kildare, one of four worldwide, produces three billion tablets and capsules annually, including its Covid antiviral medication Paxlovid. The company’s Grange Castle site was also heavily involved in producing the company’s Covid vaccine.

The list may also include Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Novartis and AbbVie, all of which have large operations here.

These companies ramped up production to meet soaring demand for medicines and products during the pandemic. That trade has come under pressure in 2023 on the back of weaker demand internationally linked to a fall-off in demand for Covid-related products and higher interest rates. More recent figures show goods exports were 6-7 per cent down year on year in September.

The CSO figures reveal the EU accounted for €80 billion in exports of goods in 2022 but the US was Ireland’s largest single-country export market, accounting for more than €63 billion or 30 per cent of total exports. The second biggest export partner was Germany with €25 billion, followed by the UK with €22 billion.

Despite the barriers posed by Brexit, the Republic’s trade with Britain and Northern Ireland – both exports and imports – rose last year.

Exports to the UK increased by €4 billion between 2021 and 2022, the CSO said. At the same time, imports from the UK increased by 50 per cent, or almost €10 billion, in 2022, rising to more than €29 billion or 21 per cent of total imports, and making the UK Ireland’s biggest import partner.

Within this, exports to Northern Ireland rose to €5 billion while imports from the North rose to €5.4 billion. Amid barriers to importing from Britain, trade on the island of Ireland has increased in the wake of Brexit.

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Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times