Thursday 17 August 2017

Pharma firms help exports jump 10pc as Brexit yet to hit UK trade

Ellie Donnelly

Irish exports in March were up 10pc year-on-year to €11bn on an adjusted basis, and the value of goods exports for the first three months of 2017 was €30.2bn - an increase of €2.9bn on the first three months of 2016.

According to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office, sectors which experienced the largest improvements in the 12 months to March 2017 were medical and pharmaceutical, where product exports increased by €720m or 30pc to just over €3bn.

Exports of electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances also performed strongly, increasing by €350m, or 60pc, to €931m year-on-year. Meanwhile the country's exports of food and live animals increased by €125m to over €1bn for the same period.

During the 12-month period, exports to Great Britain decreased by €9m, or 1pc, to €1.1bn suggesting that the Brexit vote and sterling fluctuations have yet to have a significant impact on Irish exports to Britain. However, imports from Great Britain into Ireland increased by €76m or 6pc to €1.3bn in March 2017 compared with March 2016.

The main increase was in the imports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials.

The EU accounted for €5.4bn, or 49pc, of total goods exports in March 2017, an increase of €450m in comparison to March 2016.

The biggest EU destination for exports was Belgium, which accounted for €1.3bn of Irish exports. The US was the main non-EU destination accounting for almost €3bn or 27pc of total exports in March 2017. Exports to non-EU countries increased by €508m in March 2017 to €5.6bn compared with March 2016.

The figures come after Enterprise Ireland this week launched plans to increase exports by 50pc from its client companies to the rest of the eurozone by 2020, as it tries to assist and encourage Irish firms to focus on markets other than the UK as their primary export market.

Speaking at the launch of the Enterprise Ireland Euro Zone Market Strategy 2017-2020 this week, Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon warned that Irish companies cannot afford to be complacent in the face of Brexit.

"The fact that the growth of exports to the UK has slowed suggests that the impact of Brexit on Irish companies has already started. Companies cannot afford to wait until the Brexit negotiations conclude," Sinnamon said.

As part of the Euro Zone Market Strategy Enterprise Ireland has said that their staff numbers in the eurozone markets will be increased. Enterprise Ireland will work with Irish companies in a holistic way, supporting them with funding, advice, and trade missions, Sinnamon said.

Meanwhile, the value of imports into Ireland for March 2017 was €5.8bn representing a decrease of €992m or 15pc on an unadjusted basis when compared with March 2016.

Petrol imports increased by €128m or 65pc in March 2017 when compared with March 2016, while imports of chemicals and related products increased by €211m over the same comparative period.

However vehicle imports saw a significant decrease of 17pc to €307m.

In terms of where our imports come from, the EU accounted for 64pc of the value of goods imported in March 2017, down 6pc to €3.7bn when compared with March 2016.

The US accounted for 13pc, with 6pc coming from China.

Irish Independent

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