Exports to EU countries rose 15% over the past year with more than half of Irish goods going to the Continent in July, official figures have shown, as calls grow for Irish ports to be funded post- Brexit.
CSO figures for July showed the continental EU accounted for €5.65bn, or 51%, of exports in July, of which €1.44bn went to Belgium and €725m went to Germany.
Exports to EU countries increased by €749m, or 15%, compared with July 2017, according to the CSO.
Imports from the EU were valued at €4.8bn, or 63%, of total imports in July 2018 — an increase of €1.43m, or 43%, over the same comparative period.
Exports to the UK rose €56m, or 5%, to €1.16bn in July 2018 when compared with the same month last year, but are down €443m, or 5%, over the first seven months of the year.
Imports from the UK increased by €97m, or 7%, to €1.43bn in July 2018, when compared with July 2017, the CSO said.
The US was the main non-EU destination accounting for just over €3bn, or 28%, of exports in July 2018.
Exports of medical and pharmaceutical products increased by €993m, an increase of 37%, in July 2018 compared to the same month last year.
The value of goods exported from January to July 2018 was €80.32bn, an increase of €7.97bn, or 11%, when compared with the first seven months of 2017.
Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly said that identifying additional funding for Irish ports was a key priority in the new EU Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU’s budget for the years 2021-2027.
He said he had put forward a number of amendments to the Connecting Europe Facility, a €42.3bn fund for European energy, transport and digital networks, in order to secure funding of Irish ports post-Brexit and reduce Irish exporters’ reliance on the UK.
Earlier this week, the Irish Ports Association, an Ibec affiliate, called on the European Commission to enhance its proposals to mitigate the adverse impact of Brexit on marine passenger and freight transport between Ireland and Continental Europe.
The commission is proposing to realign North Sea Mediterranean Core Network Corridor, which currently links Ireland to France via the British landbridge, but that measure needs to be further bolstered, the association said.