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UK's economic collapse drags down Irish exports as pharma holds up totals


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Ireland's exports took a bath in April, according to numbers from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) issued yesterday, but it was not all bad news.

As lockdowns spread across Europe and the US, exports from the State fell by €5.4bn from March to €11.6bn, but that March figure was record number and the decline from a year earlier was just €1.24bn as exports of pharmaceuticals products rose.

Data from the European Union as a whole showed that Ireland was the only country in the bloc to record an increase in exports in the January-April period, with a gain of 6pc while the rest of the EU was deeply in the red.

Those four months covered plant closures in China and lockdowns across Europe, so the Irish export machine did not actually do that badly and one of our main markets, Britain, recorded the biggest decline in exports from all EU countries.

The UK has experienced the biggest economic collapse of any major economy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and it contracted by a record 20.4pc in April.

Although our nearest neighbour accounts for a diminishing share of Ireland's exports, it is still an important market that is worth 7pc of the total.

"Exports to Great Britain decreased by €305m to €865m in April 2020 compared with April 2019," the CSO said.

"The value of goods exports to Great Britain in the first four months of 2020 was €4.14bn, a decrease of €340m on the first four months of 2019," it said.

Ireland's export numbers - like almost everything else in the economy here - are highly volatile and unpredictable from month-to-month.

Stripping out the strongly performing pharma sector, Irish exports were down almost a quarter from a year ago overall.

The Government expects exports to fall by nearly 8pc this year.

Irish Independent