THE gap between the value of services imported into Ireland and exports shrank last year to its smallest since 2007.
Total service exports increased by €7.1bn to €81.4bn in 2011, the Central Statistics Office said yesterday.
Service imports increased by €2.3bn to €83.3bn in 2011 -- a smaller increase that narrowed the gap to €1.8bn.
Services are an increasingly important part of the economy and the value of services exported overseas is now close to the value of goods.
Many of the services are transactions within large multi-nationals which often sell software and other intellectual property to one another.
The CSO said yesterday that exports of computer services were worth €31.8bn last year and accounted for 39pc of total service exports in 2011.
The biggest imports came from the other business services which together with royalties and licences accounted for 77pc of service imports.
Service exports to Switzerland, Sweden and Italy were helped by demand for computer services.
Service imports from Netherlands and Belgium increased while imports from Bermuda, which represents US companies with operations there, fell by €1bn.
Imports from the US, at €24.9bn were almost unchanged compared with 2010, with decreases for advertising and market research offset by increases for management services between company affiliates and R&D.