Business Irish

Thursday 19 April 2018

Drug patent expiry fails to impact on exports with 8pc increase

Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

Trade surplus boosted even further as imports fall by 8.9pc

EXPORTS of goods jumped 8pc in November from the previous month, dampening fears that the expiry of some drug patents would knock a hole in the figures.

The trade surplus widened to €4.28bn in November from €3.25bn in October as goods exports volumes rose 10 times faster than the previous month. Imports fell by 8.9pc, boosting the trade surplus further.

The figures suggest that export growth probably slowed last year compared with the previous year but was still positive.

"The strong recovery in exports in November means that volumes have recovered to July 2012 levels following a sharp decline in September," Davy Stockbrokers economist David McNamara said.

A massive contraction in industrial production over the autumn as pharmaceuticals such as anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor went off patent have not yet shown up in the export figures, although economists cautioned that there may be declines in the months ahead, which will also impact on economic output.

The Central Statistics Office added that preliminary figures for November showed a seasonally adjusted increase in exports of €552m to €8.1bn from October.

Seasonally adjusted imports decreased by €481m to €3.72bn, resulting in a 32pc increase in the seasonally adjusted trade surplus to €4.28bn.

Exports of chemicals and related products decreased by 3pc with a decrease of €774m in medical and pharmaceutical products partially offset by an increase of €427m in organic chemicals.

The figures "were a lot stronger than we expected", said Merrrion Stockbrokers' Alan McQuaid.

Comparing November last year with November 2011, the value of exports decreased by 3.5pc, with exports of chemicals and related products down by 3.3pc.


"At the end of the day, the export sector has been the main driver of Irish economic activity in recent times and will remain the key growth engine for some period to come," Mr McQuaid added.

The expiry of patents and poor industrial production figures suggested that Ireland's overall export performance would suffer in the coming month, he added.

Two-thirds of imports came from the EU, with more than one-third coming from the UK.

Exports to the eurozone have risen 2.5pc despite the economic problems besetting the economies that share the single currency.

Total exports to the UK jumped 7pc.

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