Trade surplus down by 9pc but exports up over the year

IRELAND’s trade surplus fell by 9pc in January but the value of exports was up over the year.

The country’s export sector has been dented by the effect of the so-called pharmaceutical patent cliff – a fall-off in pharmaceutical sales as some blockbuster drugs here lose intellectual property, such as Irish-made cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor.

Preliminary figures for January from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show the value of exports was down 6pc from the previous month to €7.22bn.

Imports fell 4pc to €4.12bn resulting in a 9pc decrease in the trade surplus to €3.1bn.

But on a yearly basis, the value of exports was up 4pc with the main drivers being a 6pc increase in the exports of chemicals and related products and a 9pc jump in food and live animals.

The EU accounted for more than half of overall exports in January, while the US accounted for about 23pc at €1.6bn.

Irish companies exported about €46m worth to Russia, whose ambassador here warned that Ireland will suffer serious economic consequences if it supports further European Union sanctions against the country. Imports were valued at €15m.

Meanwhile, an index measuring Ireland’s export potential rose for a second successive quarter in the final three months of the year.

Buoyant growth in the United States and UK helped drive the positive data, according to the Investec Ireland Export Analysis Report (IIEAR)

Aisling Dodgson, Investec’s head of treasury, said an important feature of the latest data was a broadening of the recovery.

“In a reflection of how the outlook is improving across Ireland’s key trading partners, each of the 15 major export markets included in the index expanded during Q4, thereby making a positive contribution to the IIEAR,” she said.

“This is the first time this has happened since we started publishing the report in 2011.”

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