Sign of 'pick up in consumer demand' as imports rise
IMPORTS topped €4bn for the first time since May last year in April, in what one analyst said could be a sign of a pick-up in consumer demand.
When seasonal factors are included, imports rose by 8pc to €4.16bn in April, while exports increased by 4pc to €7.07bn, according to the Central Statistics Office.
Seasonally adjusted imports rose in each of the first four months of the year, while exports averaged a steady €7bn a month, the figures show.
The value of imports in April was 11.5pc higher than in the same month last year, but exports were worth 7.4pc less.
Some of the increase in imports would be due to higher oil prices, but Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers, said the increase relative to March "reflects a pick-up in consumer demand".
Revised CSO figures show that the collapse in imports last year gave the country a record trade surplus of €38.5bn last year -- a third more than the surplus recorded in 2008.
While much of this will flow out again in multi-national profit repatriations, it will reduce Ireland's deficit in its dealing with the rest of the world and therefore add to domestic savings.
In the first three months of the year, exports of computer equipment were down 42pc in value terms over 2009, while organic chemicals dropped 17pc. Exports of medical and pharmaceutical products rose by 8pc.
"One of the positive developments from the eurozone debt crisis has been the sharp fall in the euro, and a weak single currency benefits Ireland more than most," Mr McQuaid said.