Friday 24 March 2017

Trade surplus hit record high of €4.3bn in November

Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

IRELAND'S trade surplus hit a record high in November as exports of chemicals, medical devices and food surged despite the faltering European economy, the Central Statistics Office said yesterday.

The seasonally adjusted surplus rose to €4.3bn in November to beat a previous record set just two months previously. The new high came as exports in November rose by 4.6pc to a near record and imports dived 6pc.

The cumulative trade surplus for the first 11 months of last year amounted to €41,294m or €915m higher than the surplus in the same period in 2010, the CSO added.

The figures suggest the country enjoyed a balance of payments surplus last year -- one of the key indicators of economic well-being. Ireland had a small balance of payments surplus in 2010 for the first time since 1999.

"In recent months we have seen several signs of deterioration in the global economy, particularly connected with problems in the eurozone, and several commentators have suggested that our exports could suffer," Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said yesterday.

"The great resilience which our exports are showing in difficult circumstances is encouraging."

Mr Bruton promised further reforms to help exports this year but did not give details.

Chambers Ireland chief executive Ian Talbot called for action rather than words.

"Government has made a lot of announcements recently of its intentions to introduce a partial loan guarantee scheme and labour market reforms. We now need real focus on execution and delivery," he said.

Figures from Brussels published last week showed that Ireland had the strongest trade surplus in the EU after Germany during the first 10 months of the year.

Many other European countries, including Greece and Portugal, run deficits.

"It is clear that Ireland has a very healthy and dynamic export model," said Bloxham Stockbrokers economist Alan McQuaid.

"It is, in our view, in a much better position than other eurozone 'peripheral' debt countries to move forward once world growth picks up again."

Mr McQuaid said 2011 probably enjoyed an overall trade surplus of around €45bn, which would beat the 2010 record of €43.4bn.

Mr McQuaid predicts "some loss of momentum" this year as the world economy slows but says demand for Irish-made products, such as pharmaceuticals, is likely to remain stronger than demand for many other types of goods.

A detailed breakdown of the trade figures for October, also published yesterday, showed that exports of medical and pharmaceutical products rose by 8pc in the first 10 months of 2011.

Organic chemicals increased by 11pc, food advanced 14pc and dairy products jumped 28pc. Exports of computer equipment fell by 11pc in value.

An amazing 23pc of exports went to the United States alone, 15pc went to Belgium and 14pc ended up in Britain.

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