Exports surge by 15pc as business sentiment defies gloom
The value of Irish goods exports was up 15pc in February, compared with the same month last year.
For January and February, the value of goods exports was €19.18bn, an increase of €1.98bn when compared with the first two months of 2016.
On a monthly basis, imports increased by 16pc while exports rose by 3pc. That means the goods trade surplus narrowed by 9pc to €4.7bn.
David McNamara of Davy Stockbrokers said the trade data for February show that exports have started the year on a solid footing.
"Goods exports were up 3.4pc on the month and 15.5pc on the year, driven by increases in both pharmaceuticals and traditional industries," he said.
"Looking ahead, we expect a larger contribution to GDP growth this year from exports following a relatively weak 2.4pc gain in 2016."
Meanwhile, business sentiment improved during the first three months of 2017 as the Irish economy so far defies fears of a marked slowdown, according to the latest KBC Bank/Chartered Accountants Ireland business sentiment survey.
Companies reported ongoing and healthy growth in their own activity levels and they are now marginally more positive about the coming quarter.
However, as major uncertainty persists in regard to the global and domestic economic outlook, producer confidence remains some way below the levels seen in late 2015.
"The survey suggests 2017 has started positively for Irish business, with broadly based improvements in activity and employment.
"While the pace of growth has eased slightly and firms remain cautious about an uncertain environment, early 2017 has been notably less difficult than they had envisaged," Pat Costello, CEO of Chartered Accountants Ireland, said.
"The rise they are seeing in their own business volumes, allied to better than expected news on the broader Irish economy, is now translating into improving confidence," he said.
The survey also found that there are significant differences in companies' understanding of the implications of Brexit for their businesses.