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Trade surplus rose by €1 billion to record high of €4.9 billion

The figures were stronger than expected and one economist described them as ”stunning”. The CSO data, which are preliminary figures, show an increase in exports of €1.258 billion (16%) in August compared with July. Seasonally adjusted imports increased by €215m (5%), resulting in an increase of €1.043 billion in the seasonally adjusted trade surplus.
In August 2012, goods exports were valued at over €9 billion compared to €7.8 billion in July. The figures show that between July and August there was an increase of €478m in unadjusted exports – usually there is a decrease between these two months.
This was the main reason for the seasonally adjusted increase, the CSO said.
Comparing August 2012 with August of last year, the value of exports increased by €1.273 billion.
The main drivers were organic chemicals, medical and pharmaceutical products and essential oils. The EU accounted for 55% of total exports in August 2012 with the UK and Belgium accounting for 27% of total exports. The US was the main destination for exports outside the EU and accounted for 21% of total exports in August 2012. During the same time, imports increased by 4% mainly due to an increase in the imports of food and live animals. Around 60% of imports in August 2012 came from the EU with the UK accounting for 31% of the value of imports. The US and China were the main non-EU sources of imports.
For the first eight months of 2012, exports amounted to €62.493 billion and imports came to €32.591 billion. This represented a trade surplus of €29.902 billion.
NCB pointed out that exports were strong across all of the key headings in August.
A particularly strong year on year performances were recorded by the food, chemicals, machinery and ”miscellaneous manufactured articles” sector. ”This is encouraging given that those four headings collectively account for about 90% of total Irish goods exports,” NCB economist Philip O’Sullivan said.
Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said that he believes – as was the case during the 2009 collapse in global trade flows – the sectoral composition of external demand will shift in favour of goods which Ireland specialises in, especially the likes of pharmaceuticals.
”On top of that, overall export activity looks set to be supported by ongoing competitiveness gains and a very healthy services sector,” he added.
Davy Stockbrokers noted that after a weak second quarter, in which goods exports fell 5.4% and 7.3% in nominal and real terms respectively, exports have bounced back strongly in the third quarter.
The stockbrokers noted that while the monthly index can be quite volatile, and some of the gains seen in August may be reversed in September, the outlook for the next quarter ”is encouraging”.
Commenting on the CSO figures, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton said that the record figures show that Irish exporters are performing extraordinarily well in a tough environment.
”Other recent signs including the major jobs announcements we have seen this week from Irish companies trading in international markets show that there are real reasons for optimism about the transformation that is occurring in our economy,” the Minister added.

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