Trade surplus rises to 3.8bn as export values increase


AN INCREASE in the value of exports helped to widen the State’s trade surplus by some 8 per cent to €3.8 billion in January.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that exports increased to €8.31 billion in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, up 9 per cent on the €7.59 billion recorded in December and 13 per cent ahead of the €7.35 billion figure for last January.

Chemical and pharmaceutical products, at more than €4.8 billion, accounted for the vast majority of the exports.

The data show rises in the value of exports to Britain (up 15 per cent to €1.38 billion), other EU states (up 5 per cent to €3.19 billion) and rest of world markets (up 12.6 per cent to €3.11 billion) when compared with the same month last year.

Exports of industrial produce increased in value by €516 million year on year to €7.05 billion.

The value of agricultural produce exported in January increased by €35 million year on year to €409 million but fishing and forestry exports were €4 million lower than in January, 2011 at €38 million.

The value of unclassified exports more than trebled year on year from €60 million to €196 million in January.

The CSO figures show exports to the US fell by almost €100 million to €1.44 billion year on year in January, while exports into the UK increased by €180 million to €1.27 billion in the same period.

The value of exports to Belgium increased by more than one-third to €1.25 billion but sales into the French market contracted by nearly a quarter to €375 million.

The value of imports in January was marginally ahead of the seasonally adjusted figure recorded in the same month last year at €4.5 billion.

Separately, the Irish Exporters Association said that a sharp slide in the value of the euro should provide a boost to Irish exports and result in growth in the sector in the coming months.

Association chief executive John Whelan said that the euro losing more than 7 per cent against the US dollar and British pound had boosted competitiveness.

He said the rates could result in gains of more than €2.7 billion for Irish exporters should they remain at similar levels for the rest of the year.