Value of Irish exports falls by €2bn in a month

Latest trade numbers come amid signs global downturn may be on the way

The latest official trade numbers show Irish goods exports fell in value by 14 per cent to €11.5 billion in June. Photograph: Alan Betson

The latest official trade numbers show Irish goods exports fell in value by 14 per cent to €11.5 billion in June. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The value of Irish exports fell by nearly €2 billion between May and June amid escalating trade tensions between the United States and China and further signs of global downturn.

The latest official trade numbers show goods exports fell in value by 14 per cent to €11.5 billion in June on the back of declines in exports of medical and pharmaceutical products and transport equipment, including aircraft. With goods imports rising 2 per cent to €7.3 billion, this gave rise to an adjusted trade surplus of €4.2 billion compared with €6.2 billion the previous month.

The underlying trend, however, remains positive with the value of goods exports for the six months to June up 10 per cent to €76.5 billion. On a monthly basis, exports of electrical machinery increased by 59 per cent to €687 million in June. However, exports of medical and pharmaceutical products decreased by 3 per cent to €3.7 billion while exports of other transport equipment, including aircraft decreased by €486 million to €108 million.

The value of goods imports for January to June was €42.7 billion, an increase of €760 million (2 per cent) compared with the same period last year.

The State’s export trade is dominated by pharmaceuticals, which account for more than 60 per cent of total goods exports because of the strong multinational pharma manufacturing base here.

EU exports

The European Union accounted for €5.9 billion (49 per cent) of total goods exports in June, of which €1.3 billion and €1 billion went to Belgium and Germany respectively. Antwerp is one of the largest global drug redistribution hubs, and receives most of the State’s pharma exports which are not destined for the US.

The US was the main non-EU destination, accounting for just under €3.5 billion (29 per cent) of total exports.

The figures show the Republic’s trade with the UK remains steady ahead of the Brexit deadline in October. The value of Irish goods exports to our nearest neighbour rose by 7 per cent to €7.25 billion in the first six months of 2019, driven in the main by increased exports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials. The value of imports from Britain for the period also rose by 10 per cent to €9.7 billion during the same period.

A no-deal Brexit is expected to seriously undermine trade between the two jurisdictions. British prime minister Boris Johnson says he is committed to taking Britain out of the EU by the October 31st deadline, with or without a new deal with Brussels. His arrival in 10 Downing Street has precipitated a major slump in consumer confidence here. The latest KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI consumer sentiment index fell to 85.5 in July from 90.5 previously, marking the weakest reading since November 2014.