Saturday 23 February 2019

Goods exports to Britain fall 4pc as sterling bites

Trade row: US President Donald Trump’s truce with the EU could end as America calls for an end to barriers for its exports
Trade row: US President Donald Trump’s truce with the EU could end as America calls for an end to barriers for its exports

Ellie Donnelly and David Chance

Goods exports from Ireland to the island of Britain fell 4pc year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2018, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office.

Some €12.8bn of Irish goods were sent over, while Irish goods imports from Britain increased by 5pc to €16.6bn.

Goods exports to Northern Ireland from the Republic were up slightly year-on-year to €1.86bn from €1.78bn.

Imports of goods from Northern Ireland to the Republic also increased to €1.35bn in the 11-month period from €1.25bn over the same period in 2017.

Merrion Capital economist Alan McQuaid said that the fall in sterling and sluggish demand in the UK were problems for Irish exporters.

However, he added that any if Britain ultimately gets a deal rather than a hard Brexit, that will have a positive impact on the value of sterling.

Weaker sterling makes it more expensive to buy Irish goods.

Mr McQuaid said US President Donald Trump represents a potentially bigger threat to Irish exporters than Brexit.

That comes after US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week called for the elimination of agriculture tariffs and non-tariff barriers on US farm exports, such as labelling and food safety laws.

If pushed, this could result in a substantial trade war, after a truce agreed last year between the US and the EU.

Mr McQuaid also warned that the European Parliament elections taking place this summer could also potentially have a negative impact on trade. "You could see a big shift in the make-up of the European Parliament, which in turn could disrupt the trade mechanisms, and the EU is a significant trade partner for Ireland," he said.

Overall, the value of Irish goods exports for the period January to November 2018 was €128bn, a 14pc increase on the same period in 2017.

The value of goods imports for the same period was €81bn, an increase of 12pc, when compared with January to November 2017.

In November, the value of goods exports decreased by 2pc to €11.9bn on a seasonally adjusted basis, while imports decreased by 9pc to €7.3bn.

This resulted in an increase of 12pc in the seasonally adjusted trade surplus to €4.59m in November.

Irish Independent

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