Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Half-Year External Trade Data

This morning the CSO released the preliminary external trade data for the first six months of the year.  Final details on merchandise trade for the first five months were also released.  The headline figures are positive with a record seasonally-adjusted trade surplus of €4.1 billion recorded for June.  The €21.9 billion surplus for the first six months of the year is also a new high, ahead of the €21.1 billion recorded for the same period last year.

The trend in imports and exports has been upward for 2011.

Monthly Imports to June 2011

During 2008 and 2009 the trade surplus was growing, but not because of any increase in exports.  The trade surplus was growing because imports were falling.  This trend has now reversed and both imports and exports have been improving in 2011. 

Here is the trade balance.  Although June was a record, it is not that much greater than the level seen for several months for the past year or so.

Trade Surplus to June 2011

Here is the detailed performance up to the end of May of the export categories used by the CSO.  Click to enlarge.

Exports by Category to May 2011

Exports are more than 6% up on 2010, but excluding chemicals and related produces exports are up less than 1% on last year and are still nearly a quarter down on 2007.  Excluding chemicals exports are only €120 million up on 2010. 

Chemicals and related products (including pharmaceuticals) comprised 62% of total merchandise exports for the first five months of the year and clearly dominate Irish merchandise trade.

Exports by Category Proportions

Here are Chemical exports since 2005.

Chemical Exports to May 2011

If we exclude Chemicals and look at the export performance of the remaining categories, the view is not so positive, though the downward momentum of 2008 and 2009 is slowly being reversed.

Exports excluding Chemicals to May 2011

The category that has driven most of this decline is Machinery and Transport Equipment.  This category includes computers and these exports are down substantially over the past few years.

Machinery and Transport Equip Exports to May 2011

On the other exports of Food and Live Animals have been improving in the past 18 months.  These exports only make up one-twelfth of the total but highlight the recent improvement (price increases to the rest of us) in the agri-food sector.

Food and Live Animal Exports to May 2011

Finally, here is a quick glimpse and the increase in imports and in particular the imports by use data provided by the CSO.

Goods Imports by Use

It is the import of production materials that drove the fall in overall imports.  These have begun to recover, albeit slowly.  Imports of consumption goods are also showing a very gradual increase.

1 comment:

  1. Seamus
    While the 'excluding chemicals' figure is up just 0.8%, the volume of these exports, and therefore the labour content required to produce the increased volume, may be up much more than that due to the fact that prices of manufactured goods in particular have fallen.
    I presume that it is unlikely that agricultural price increases would offset the positive 'labour' content of the volume increases in other areas.