Monday 19 March 2018

Goods exports to UK up €153m despite Brexit

Ireland could have a record trade surplus this year. Photo: Bloomberg
Ireland could have a record trade surplus this year. Photo: Bloomberg
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Goods exports to Britain were €153m higher in May than in the same month last year, new CSO figures show.

Despite Brexit denting exports to Britain last year to the tune of almost half a billion euro, the Central Statistics Office painted a more positive picture for 2017 so far.

It said goods exports across the Irish Sea totalled €1.24bn in May, compared with €1.1bn in the same month last year.

In the first five months of the year, exports to Britain rose to €5.9bn, compared with €5.19bn in the same five months in 2016.

Overall, on a seasonally adjusted basis, goods exports increased by €644m, or 7pc, to €10.18bn in May, compared with April, according to the preliminary figures.

Goods imports decreased, however, by €519m, or 8pc, to €5.88bn leading to an increase of €1.17bn, or a massive 37pc, in the trade surplus to €4.3bn.Alan McQuaid of Merrion Capital said a record trade surplus could be on the cards for the year.

"The trade outlook going forward remains clouded in uncertainty, but we are still anticipating another solid performance this year," he said.

"Indeed, based on the very positive start to 2017, with the trade balance in the first five months running €3.3bn above that of the same time last year, another record surplus now looks on the cards of around €49-50bn."

Data published earlier this year showed that while Irish goods exports reached a record last year of almost €117bn, exports to Britain dropped by almost half a billion euro as the Brexit vote took its toll.

Imports from Britain also fell back by €1.36bn.

Exporting businesses - particularly in the agri-food sector and those in border areas - have been hit hard by the slump in the value of sterling in the wake of last June's vote.

Yesterday's data suggested the exporting sector may be weathering the currency volatility.

Tanaiste and Enterprise Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the data was positive news.

"The Government is committed to facilitating the development of a strong exporting sector and exporting companies are contributing hugely to the performance of the Irish economy," Ms Fitzgerald said.

Mr McQuaid said that one can only speculate as to how Brexit will impact Ireland in the coming months and years, but there is clearly likely to be a negative impact on trade.

"The UK is the second largest single country for Ireland's goods and the largest for its services. At the same time, Ireland imports 30pc of its goods from the UK," he said.

Irish Independent

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