THE NOVEMBER seasonally-adjusted trade surplus of €4.283bn was the second highest of 2012 after August’s all-time high of €4.884bn, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.
However, while the monthly figures are strong, economists expect 2012 growth to be slower than in 2011 if the ‘drugs coming off patents’ drag in the pharmaceutical sector continues.
Seasonally adjusted exports were up 7.4pc in the month, while imports posted a decrease of 11.4pc.
On an unadjusted basis there was a surplus of €4,383m in November- this was €53m lower than the surplus of €4,436m posted in November 2011.
In the first eleven months of 2012 the cumulative trade surplus amounted to €40,535m, €82m more than the aggregate surplus of €40,453m in January-November 2011.
Exports have been a driver of growth in the Irish economy and are expected to remain key for some time.
However, according to Alan McQuaid, economist at Merrion Stockbrokers, industrial production data for the three month September-November period, the most up-to-date figures available, suggest that the expiry of patents in certain pharmaceutical products is impacting negatively on output.
“Irish export growth in 2012 looks set to be weaker than in 2011. We are now forecasting a volume rise of 2.9% in goods and services though pushing back up again to 4pc in 2013 and 5.5pc in 2014 all things being equal,” he said.
“However, overall growth may well be weaker than this if the patents issue drags on. As regards the total 2012 trade balance, we are looking for a value figure of around €43bn, little changed on 2011.”