Trade surplus jumps 40%

IRELAND’s trade surplus jumped by more than 40% to just over €4 billion in May, on the back of a strong increase in export activity.

Latest external trade figures from the CSO show the value of exports in May increased by 8% on a monthly basis. On a year-on-year basis, export value was up by 6%.

The trade surplus – April’s figure amounted to just under €2.9bn, by comparison – was also aided by a 14% monthly decline in import value and a 9% decline, when measured by year.

“It is clear that the export sector will be the key player in the Irish recovery story over the next few years,” said Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers.

“The trade performance last year was quite impressive by international standards and we expect another solid performance in 2010, with a merchandise trade surplus of over €40bn.”

The latest figures also show export value actually fell 6% – to €28bn – over the first four months, when compared with the same period in 2009.

Bloxham is still hopeful of a further weakening of the euro against sterling and the dollar, which should strengthen exports further. That would be welcome as the May CSO figures also detailed an 11% year-on-year fall in exports to Britain over the first four months of this year.

“One of the positive developments from the eurozone debt crisis has been the sharp fall in the euro, and a weak single currency benefits Ireland more than most.

“Ireland’s economy is one of the most open in the world. We’re still looking for the euro to weaken to 80p versus sterling by year-end and to the $1.10 to $1.20 range against the dollar, which would be positive for exports,” said Mr McQuaid.

“Our continued strong export performance will be a key factor underpinning our economic prosperity,” said Minister for Trade and Commerce Billy Kelleher.


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