April exports surge to record

Exports surged to a record high in April as the economic recovery continues to be led by demand out of the UK and US, official figures have shown.

Economists have said that the slump in the value of the euro against sterling and the dollar because of low growth in the wider eurozone and the prospect of higher interest rates in the US have propelled exports in recent months.

The CSO’s figures published yesterday appear to have confirmed these favourable influences as it reported that exports climbed in April to €9.3bn, the highest figure since records began.

The seasonally adjusted figure is up from €8.21bn in March and compares with the €6.83bn in exports recorded in April 2014.
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The CSO said exports in the month were driven by high value products such as medical and pharmaceutical products. Exports of organic chemicals also increased by a significant amount.

Imports of chemicals also increased, which may suggest companies are buying more materials to manufacture higher-value products which they will eventually export.

UK figures published last week showed the British economy expanded at a faster rate than first estimated in the first three months of the year. That momentum may have carried through.

The weakness of the euro also helps Irish exporters sell into Britain and the US because the exchange rate makes their products more competitive.

The CSO said yesterday that the EU accounted for €4.72bn, or 51%, of April’s exports, while 24% or €2.29bn of all exports, went to the US in the month.

Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Merrion Capital, said: “The weak euro will be clearly beneficial for a huge exporting country like Ireland, as will the close trading ties with both the US and UK, two of the better performers on the global economic stage in 2014. And the indications are that these two key economies will perform well again in 2015.”

The Investec Purchasing Managers’ Index for the Republic of Ireland earlier this month suggested that many manufacturing firms expected to expand through the rest of the year.

However, Mr McQuaid said: “As regards 2015, it will be difficult to increase and maintain market share in an ever-more competitive environment even with the benefit of a sharply weaker euro, though Irish exporters should continue to perform well on a relative basis.”

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