Irish exports surge in August as pharma firms benefit from pandemic

Latest trade figures show value of exports rose by 6 per cent to over €14 billion

Irish exports surged again in August as demand for medicines and other pharmaceutical products connected with the pandemic rose.

The latest trade figures show the value of goods exports increased by €847 million or 6 per cent to €14 billion in August.

The increase was driven by exports of medical and pharmaceutical products, which rose by 12 per cent to €5 billion. Exports of organic chemicals jumped by nearly 60 per cent to €2.4 billion.

Ireland is a global hub for pharma and medtech, playing host to 24 of the top 25 biggest players, including Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Pfizer, Novartis and AbbVie. Pharma and chemical exports account for 40-50 per cent of total Irish goods exports, worth over €70 billion a year.


These companies have been ramping up production to meet soaring demand for products connected with the treatment of Covid-19.

Part of the increase reflects companies stockpiling medicines offshore in anticipation of possible supply chain disruption.

With imports falling by 9 per cent to €7.3 billion in August, Ireland recorded a trade surplus of €6.7 billion in August.

The figures show imports of other transport equipment, including aircraft, decreased by €664 million (63 per cent) to €386 million in August compared with August 2019.

In contrast to pharma, aircraft leasing is in the eye of the storm, with airline fleets across the world grounded while authorities try to contain the virus.

The EU accounted for €4.6 billion (38 per cent) of total goods exports in August, of which €1.9 billion went to Belgium and €1.1 billion went to Germany.

Antwerp is one of the largest global drug redistribution hubs and receives most of the State’s pharma exports that are not destined for the United States.

The US was the single largest export destination, accounting for €4.3 billion or 33 per cent of total exports in August.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times