Ireland exported more than half a billion euro worth of goods to Israel last year

‘Always a potential clash between importance of trade and geopolitical considerations’ and should be dealt with at EU level, says Michael McGrath

Ireland exported more than half a billion euro worth of products to Israel last year and almost €65 million in January alone this year, according to newly released information.

The largest valued group of goods was “chemicals and related products” which accounted for €264.6 million last year and €31.24 million in January this year.

This was followed by machinery and transport equipment worth almost €185 million last year to Irish businesses and €24.2 million in January. Food and live animal exports were the third most valuable category, worth €31.93 million in 2023 and just over €5 million in January.

Exports under a total of nine different categories also included “miscellaneous manufactured articles” (€25.55 million in 2023 and €1.94 million in January), “manufactured goods classified chiefly by material” (€6.25 million and €496,000 respectively), beverages and tobacco (€3.1 million and €350,000), mineral fuels and lubricants (€3.058 million and €222,000).


In total Irish businesses sold €520.401 million in goods and products to Israel last year and €63.750 million in January 2024.

There could be major implications for Irish businesses in the wake of the request for a review by the European Union of the trade association agreement between the EU and Israel and public demands for sanctions and that Ireland cut business ties with Israel, because of the war in Gaza.

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said: “When it comes to international trade I think it’s important that Ireland acts in concert with other countries.”

On concern at the potential impact on Irish businesses should trade sanctions be imposed on Israel, Mr McGrath said: “There is always a potential clash between the importance of trade and geopolitical considerations and that’s why I think it’s best dealt with at EU level.”

He pointed out that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund which is operated by the National Treasury Management Agency has divested itself of shareholdings worth just under €3 million in six Israeli companies that have activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Mr McGrath is establishing the long-term investment Future Ireland Fund and the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund. “It will be very important for me in setting up the new funds to ensure that we have ESG [environmental, social and governance] considerations embedded in the investment strategy.”

Taoiseach Simon Harris earlier this week met European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and raised the issue of the request by his predecessor Leo Varadkar and Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez for a review of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which governs trade relations between the bloc and Israel.

Mr McGrath said Mr Harris and Mr Sánchez planned to further discuss advancing that proposal when they met in Dublin last Friday.

Details of the level of exports from Ireland to Israel were released by the Taoiseach’s department in response to a parliamentary question from Labour TD Seán Sherlock.

Mr Sherlock said “the volume of exports to Israel will shock Irish people who have been calling week in, week out for radical action from the Government to deal with the Netanyahu-led genocide in Palestine. Famine hovers over the people of Gaza as a horrific spectre but companies continue to export at leisure.”

The Cork East TD said: “We are seeing civilians, journalists, aid workers and children being killed in their thousands in Gaza, and the Irish State needs to send a message that we will not tolerate this any longer.”

“That’s why the Labour Party has called for Ireland to break diplomatic and trade links with Israel as it refuses to change course,” he said.

He added: “Labour has called on the Government to pass the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill and for a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement on human rights grounds. However, despite requests from the Irish and Spanish governments for a review of the trade agreement, the commission has done nothing.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times