Friday, November 19, 2010

Exports show some real improvement

The CSO have released the latest External Trade Statistics giving details of our merchandise trade up to the end of August (with some preliminary figures for September).  The performance of our exports and imports up to the end of September is shown below.

Exports and Imports to September 2010

Compared to August exports rose 2.0% in seasonally adjusted terms while imports rose 1.2%.  This resulted in an increase in the trade balance for September.

Trade Surplus to September 2010

In our analysis of previous external trade releases from the CSO we have attributed this improvement in out balance of trade to the Chemical and Pharmaceutical sectors which make up 60% of our total exports.  That may not be the case with the trade balance up to the end of August (the categorical breakdown of exports for September are not part of the preliminary estimates).  Here are our monthly Medical and Pharmaceuticals exports for the past four years.

Pharmaceutical Exports to August 2010

After the record monthly exports in this category of €2.34 billion in July, exports medical and pharmaceutical exports dropped 28% to €1.68 billion in August.  With our exports falling by ‘only’ 3.5% in August this suggests that the performance of exports excluding medical and pharmaceutical exports was strong.  Here we see that this was indeed the case.

Exports excl. Med and Pharma to August 2010

The poor performance of our exports excluding medical and pharmaceutical exports that was seen up the end of 2009 has been replaced by a strong performance for the first eight months of 2010.

With all the negativity concerning the Irish economy this week here is a table that is virtually entirely positive.

Exports by Category to Aug

Exports have risen in nine of the ten categories reported by the CSO.  The only category to show a decline is in the Machinery and Transport Equipment category which is down 25% on the same period last year.  This is largely of a result of a drop in computer exports from €4.2 billion in 2009 to €2.8 billion in 2010.  That aside, virtually all other merchandise export categories are on the way up.

Our exports are still dominated by the chemical and pharmaceutical sector but there are signs that exports are “turning the corner”.  Now we need to know if these increases are leading to an increase in employment

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