UK, China and US exports all swing higher
The value of goods shipped from Ireland to key markets including the UK, US and China is rising, despite a souring global trade environment and the disruptive potential of Brexit.
Central Statistics Office (CSO) trade figures for May showed robust growth in goods, with the value of sales up 14pc in the month, and 13pc for the first five months of 2019 versus the same period of 2018.
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On a seasonally adjusted basis, goods exports increased by 5pc to nearly €13.2bn in May from the month before. Imports declined 8pc to below €6.7bn.
Goods exports to Britain rose 4pc to nearly €1.25bn in May versus the same month a year ago, and by 9pc to €6bn for the first five months of 2019.
Sales to Britain represent more than 9pc of Ireland's total exports.
The CSO, which records trade with Northern Ireland separately from the rest of the UK, found that the value of exports to Northern Ireland was up 11.4pc in the first five months of 2019.
Chief economist at Investec in Dublin, Philip O'Sullivan, said exchange rates were not a major factor.
"These improved export figures are definitely volume-led. We have seen other data recently showing that contract manufacturing for export has showed double-digit growth. So these CSO trade figures today show broad-based improvement," he added.
"It is remarkable how strongly Ireland's exports are performing, given the rather less rosy economic backdrop," Mr O'Sullivan said.
Ireland's single biggest market, the United States, saw exports rise by 15.4pc to nearly €18.7bn in the first five months of 2019.
Irish exports to most European states also grew.
Exports to China rose by 72.5pc to €3.46bn. Ireland is unusual in selling more to the world's second-biggest economy than we buy - although many Chinese goods arrive indirectly through the UK.
Official data from China showed economic growth slowed to 6.2pc in the second quarter of this year, the weakest pace in at least 27 years.