Value of exports on the rise again as 'patent cliff' effect subsides
THE value of Irish exports increased by 3pc in February compared with the same period last year, a sign that the effect of the so-called pharmaceutical patent cliff may be subsiding.
Experts said the latest figures show the sector was now bouncing back.
Increased output from the sector helped push the trade surplus up for the first time since November, to €3.2bn at the end of February.
Stockbrokers Davy said it appeared the impact of the pharma cliff – a fall-off in the value of pharmaceutical sales as some drugs made here lost intellectual property protection – was starting to ease.
It pointed out that nominal exports were up 6.6pc year-on-year – the fastest pace of growth since September 2012.
"The recovery in exports should also boost GDP in quarter one," said Davy's David MacNamara.
"Total exports rose by just 0.3pc in 2013, dragged down by a sharp 5.2pc fall in nominal exports largely attributable to the pharma patent cliff but also by weak demand for non-pharma goods.
"The data provides tentative evidence that a broader range of sectors is now adding to a tentative recovery in exports."
One of the main drivers behind the positive data was a 15pc increase in the value of exports of food and live animals, and a 14pc increase in essential oils.
There was also a 1pc increase in exports between January and February of this year.
The EU accounted for the bulk of total Irish exports in February, with the US the main non-European destination.
Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Eamon Gilmore said the figures, coupled with upbeat forecasts from the ESRI last week, showed the country was well on the road to recovery.
"Strong export growth is helping to drive our recovery and create good jobs at home. On average, 5,000 jobs are being created each month, with unemployment falling for 21 consecutive months," he said.
The ESRI last week forecast an improvement in the volume growth of merchandise exports this year and next. It said the main driver would again continue to be the service sector, which is forecast to rise 7pc this year.
It is projecting an increase in the volume of total exports of 3.7pc in 2014 and 4pc in 2015.