Exports of goods to Britain fell by almost €500m last year, while exports to most other parts of the world boomed.
The CSO figures published yesterday may be evidence the sharp drop in the value of sterling against the euro since Britain voted to leave last June is already hurting certain types of Irish firms, and agricultural products and food firms, in particular.
However, the uneven pattern of falls and then rises in exports to Britain— on which many jobs in Irish indigenous firms depend—clouds making definitive statements about the Brexit and currency effects on Irish trade for the time being.
Exports to Britain fell by €496m to €13.31bn in 2016, and imports shed €1.35bn to €15.54bn, according to the CSO figures.
Particularly marked were the falls for exporting firms which are particularly exposed to the movements of the euro against sterling, with exports of food and live animals to Britain falling by €217m.
Unexpectedly, the value of imports in food and live animals and animal and vegetable oils from Britain also fell last year, despite imported goods ostensibly being cheaper because of the strength of the euro.
The annual drop is the largest since 2014 when exports to Britain fell by €650m. The largest drop recorded was during the financial crisis when exports collapsed by €2.1bn, in 2009.
In 2015, exports to Britain had increased €1.7bn.
Overall, exports of goods to all parts of the world hit a new high of €116.9bn last year, an increase of €4.5bn from 2015.
Exports of electrical machinery and appliances and organic chemicals rose strongly in the year, while imports of fuels and lubricants fell sharply.
The CSO figures for the single month of December showed goods exports fell by an overall €646m from November.
Exports of medical and pharmaceutical goods and exports of office machinery both fell in the month, while exports of electrical machinery and appliances increased.
The CSO said imports of vehicles, organic chemicals, as well as medical and pharmaceutical products fell in the month
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