Tuesday 20 March 2018

Irish trade surplus up as imports tumble

Economist Conall MacCoille
Economist Conall MacCoille
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Ireland's trade surplus expanded by more than a fifth in June, as exports increased by 5pc, but imports tumbled 8pc.

Latest official data shows that goods exports jumped €412m in the month to €9.55bn, while imports dropped by €412m to €5.1bn.

This led to the trade surplus rising by €826m to €4.5bn.

Davy economist Conall Mac Coille said the trade figures look encouraging, but when pharmaceuticals are stripped out, exports are up just 1.2pc in the first half of the year.

"This outcome chimes with manufacturing PMI surveys, suggesting sterling's weakness, uncertainty on Brexit and weaker global manufacturing are weighing on exports," Mr Mac Coille said.

"So we still expect net trade to make a smaller contribution to Irish GDP growth through 2016 and 2017."

The EU accounted for the bulk of total goods exports last year, followed by Belgium and Britain. The US was the main non-EU destination.

Alan McQuaid of Merrion Stockbrokers said the data was better than expected.

But he said Brexit was the big unknown, with business confidence dented following the vote.

"However, the trade data for the first half of the year were quite positive, though we expect to see a slowdown in activity in the second half of 2016."

"One can only speculate as to how Brexit will impact Ireland in the coming months and years, but there is likely to be a negative impact on trade."

Mr McQuaid said that while the UK accounts for up to 17pc of Irish exports, "30pc of all employment is in sectors which are heavily related to UK exports".

Irish Independent

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