IRISH exports fell to their lowest levels since 2010 in April as the eurozone crisis continued to bite and patents for some drugs ran out, new figures show.
The nominal value of Irish goods' exports fell 9.3pc to just below €7bn for the first time since March 2012, the Central Statistics Office said.
Imports plunged by 23pc to €3.6bn in the same month, the lowest since November 2010.
The latest figures do not include exports of services which appear to be rising as Irish companies chase work abroad. The figures, which do capture exports of pharmaceuticals and other high-tech good, can be erratic.
The end of the patent for cholesterol-busting drug Lipitor sent the country's export figures into a tailspin and triggered a slump in the December trade surplus.
"The relatively weak out-turn in April is consistent with the broad trend of slowing goods' export growth," Davy Stockbrokers economist Conall Mac Coille said.
"Today's release suggests goods export growth continues to slow in 2012, leaving the Irish economy ever more reliant on the strongly performing traded services sector."
The decline in exports and imports pushed up the nominal trade in goods surplus to €3.4bn in April from €3.1bn the previous month. Chemicals and related products accounted for €4.2bn (or 60pc) of the total exports in April 2012.
Medical and pharmaceutical products decreased by 21pc while the value of exports of organic chemicals declined by 17pc. Exports of oil and related products more than doubled in the same period.
The EU accounted for €4.2bn of total exports with Belgium and Britain accounting for 30pc of the total exports.
The US was the main destination for exports outside the EU, accounting for 17pc of total exports. Britain was the main source of imports in April 2012, accounting for €1.2bn (or 33pc) of total imports followed by the US.