WE have often heard that exports are the key to Ireland's economic recovery and the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office, released last month, appear to confirm their success.
The data showed that the value of exports rose by 2pc in October to €7.48bn from October 2011.
Imports also recorded a strong performance, increasing by 13pc to €4.3bn compared with the previous year, but slipped back from their September results.
The Irish Exporters Association (IEA) said last week that exports had surged €9bn last year to reach a new high of €183bn.
Although we export more to the US, when imports are taken into consideration, our nearest neighbour outstrips any other country in terms of our trading relationship. Interestingly, when it comes to exports, Belgium ranks number three in the list, with the goods shipped heavily focused on pharmaceuticals for further processing.
It is feared that the so-called pharmaceutical patent cliff could have an impact on the lucrative pharmaceutical export market.
A number of high-profile drugs manufactured here, including the blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor, came off patent last year, with more to come in 2013. The IEA said it hoped the influx of new 'on patent' drugs would help offset losses.
The CSO said that chemicals and related products, which included dyes, pharmaceuticals, fertilisers and plastics, accounted for the top goods exported to Britain, the rest of the EU, and the US, while we send machinery and transport equipment to China. Russia has become another growing market, with the IEA yesterday highlighting that goods being shipped there surged 20pc last year.
John Whelan, IEA chief executive, said yesterday the Russian market was one of Ireland's key export growth markets.
Our imports may not be as successful, but there's a slightly more diverse range of goods being brought into Ireland than sold by us.
Britain tops the ranks, with mineral, fuels, lubricants and related materials – which includes coal, oil and gas – the most imported goods, while chemical products are the most popular being bought from the rest of the EU.
Machinery and transport equipment tops the shopping list for imports from the US, while miscellaneous manufactured articles, which includes furniture, clothes and footwear, are the most popular from China.