Trade surplus at record in June


Ireland's trade surplus hit a record in June, rising by 8 per cent to €4.08 billion, new data from the Central Statistics Office said.

The seasonally adjusted gap between Ireland's exports and imports for the month was the highest ever,  while the non-adjusted surplus reached its highest level since June 2001. Exports totalled €7.9 billion for the month, while imports were €3.8 billion.

Business group Ibec said the trade figures showed the country's export-led economic recovery remains on track.

"The figures demonstrate the crucial contribution trade is making to the economy," said head of trade Pat Ivory.

"Ireland is continuing to experience an export-led recovery, with strong exports of traditional goods, such as dairy and meat products, as well as high-tech goods, such as medical devices and chemicals. The highly open nature of the Irish economy means that exports are making a substantially higher contribution to GDP and economic recovery than in most other countries."

In the first five months of the year, exports rose by 6 per cent to €38.6 billion, driven by a 14 per cent rise in the exports of medical and pharmaceutical products and a 7 per cent increase in organic chemicals. Dairy product exports increased 47 per cent, or €217 million.

Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton said the Government had devoted considerable effort to the food sector, which increased exports by 19 per cent, while other key export areas such as medical and pharmaceutical products grew at a very fast pace.

"These trade figures show what our entrepreneurs can achieve when the conditions are right and only encourage me further to pursue this agenda so that we can continue to support export-led growth and recovery," he said.

"These are very welcome trends and show that Irish business is rising to the challenge of seeking out new markets and winning new business. These figures emphasise both the importance of trade to the economy and its potential to be a significant contributor to recovery."

The strong performance of agri-food exports was also welcomed by IFA president John Bryan. He called on the Government to continue to support primary production.

“Farm schemes are very important in driving output at farm level, which in turn generates economic activity and exports,” he said.

Over the five month period, the majority of Ireland's overall exports - 52 per cent - went to the US, Belgium and Britain. Exports to Spain were 16 per cent lower.

Meanwhile, imports were 12 per cent higher at €21.1 billion, with transport equipment increasing by 34 per cent and  imports of medical and pharmaceutical products 22 per cent higher. Petroleum imports were 17 per cent, or €305 million higher.

The economy imported 18 per cent more goods from Great Britain, and grew imports from China by 17 per cent. Britain and the US accounted for almost half of all imports in the five months. 

National Irish Bank's chief economist Dr Ronnie O'Toole said today's figures showed only half the story.

"Merchandise goods account for only just over half of Irish exports, and today's figures only relate to goods," he said. "Services exports growth have driven much of the export growth witnessed over last decade, and the performance of this sector won't be known until the National Accounts data is released in September."