Irish goods exports to Britain fall 4% amid Brexit uncertainty

Overall trade surplus rises as imports fall faster than exports

Shipping containers at Dublin Port. Exports and imports both slipped back in November. Photograph: Alan Betson

Shipping containers at Dublin Port. Exports and imports both slipped back in November. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Irish goods exports to Britain, the Republic’s largest EU trading partner, fell 4 per cent to €12.8 billion in the first 11 months of last year, the latest official trade numbers show.

But experts have cautioned that it is too premature to link the fall-off to Brexit or the related decline in sterling, insisting the trade numbers remain strong in the context of the current uncertainty.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show that imports from Britain for the period from January to November rose by 5 per cent to €16.6 billion.

The value of Irish goods exports overall fell by 2 per cent to €11.9 billion in November while imports were 9 per cent lower at €7.3 billion. This generated a seasonally adjusted trade surplus of €4.6 billion in November, up €505 million or 12 per cent on the previous month.

Pharmaceutical products

The biggest category of goods exports in November was medical and pharmaceutical products. Exports of these goods accounted for nearly a third (32 per cent ) of total goods exports, and were 31 per cent higher at €4 billion when compared with November 2017.

Imports of “other transport equipment”, which includes aircraft increased by 23 per cent to nearly €2 billion compared with November 2017, accounting for 25 per cent of the total value of Irish imports.

Overall, the EU took in €6.3 billion (49 per cent ) of Irish goods exports in November, of which €1.5 billion went to Belgium and €872 million went to Germany.

Antwerp in Belgium 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 main non-EU export destination, accounting for €3.8 billion (30 per cent) of November exports.