EXPORTS for March fell 5% on a seasonally adjusted basis, reflecting the slowdown in the global economy.
According to the Central Statistics Office, exports in the month fell to €7.2 billion from €7.6bn in February.
The adjusted figures take seasonal factors into account and these show imports rose by 1% to just short of €5.2bn.
Final figures for the first two months of 2008 show exports pretty stagnant at €14.3bn, compared with the same period last year.
The figures showed quite diverse performances, with exports of chemical materials and products up by a substantial 63%, while computer equipment fell 15% in the month.
The figures also confirm the growing importance of China and Hong Kong with exports up by 60% to €436m to those markets.
Despite the weaker dollar exports to the US rose 5% while sales to Malaysia almost trebled.
In a comment on the figures, economist Dermot O’Leary of Goodbody Stockbrokers said the export data for Ireland “provide further evidence of slowing domestic demand along with lower international growth”.
“The latest external trade data for Ireland provide further evidence of slowing domestic demand along with lower international growth. In the first quarter of 2008, the value of exports declined by 6%, while imports fell by 7% over the same time period. For both, this is the weakest quarterly performance since the third quarter of 2003, when Irish merchandise trade statistics were distorted by a VAT fraud with the UK,” he said.
Over the three months to the end of February it was “noteworthy” that the value of exports of both chemicals and computers, two of the largest commodity groupings by far in the Irish economy, fell by 1% and 12% respectively.
Exports of indigenous foods fell 4% reflecting the impact of the strong euro against sterling, a key market for our food sector.
Total exports of food and drink last year amounted to over €8bn.
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