Ireland's trade surplus hits record high in June


IRELAND’S TRADE surplus hit a record in June, rising by 8 per cent to €4.08 billion. 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.

However, the second quarter overall proved weaker than the first three months of the year.

Figures published yesterday by the Central Statistics Office show that the seasonally adjusted value of exports stood at €7.9 billion, up from €7.5 billion a month earlier. The value of imports was €3.8 billion in June.

For the full second quarter exports stood at €23 billion, down 1.2 per cent on the first quarter of the year. This adds to the evidence that goods exports are flattening out after a period of strong growth from the end of 2009.

In the first five months of the year exports rose by 6 per cent year-on-year 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 by 47 per cent, or €217 million.

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.

Imports in the five months to the end of May were 12 per cent higher than in the same period in 2010, 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.

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.

“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.”

National Irish Bank’s chief economist Dr Ronnie -O’Toole said the 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.

“Services exports growth have driven much of the export growth witnessed over the last decade, and the performance of this sector won’t be known until the national accounts data is released in September.”