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Minister Humphreys welcomes strong merchandise export performance for Q1 2020 in CSO Trade data

Today the CSO published its latest Goods Exports and Imports release which shows that in March 2020 the highest ever level of monthly goods exports from Ireland was recorded. In Q1 2020 total goods exports increased by €4.8bn to €42.3bn. This represents an increase of 13 percent compared to Q1 2019 when exports were €37.6bn.

Commenting on the strong goods export data, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, noted that: “Ireland’s goods exports levels of more than €42 billion in the first quarter of 2020 is testament to a strong export-driven economy supporting quality employment in Ireland. The data shows how strongly the Irish economy was performing before the COVID-19 pandemic struck with all the health and economic impacts that have ensued.” 

For the period January to March 2020, overall goods exports have increased by 13%, with particularly strong growth in Chemicals/pharmaceuticals (+15%); Machinery and transport equipment (+18%).  The diversity of markets served – EU (38% of total exports); US (31% of total exports); UK (9% of total exports); China (6% of total exports); Rest of World (16% of total exports) – are also a testament to the strength of the economy pre-COVID.

Minister Humphreys continued that: “While further study would be required, it may be that the March growth in pharmachem exports are linked to the growth in global demand for many key goods in this sector in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic during this period. The world’s top 10 chemicals/pharmaceuticals companies have a significant and longstanding presence in Ireland. The evolution of the sector has been underpinned by Irish Government investment in R&D capacity coupled with outstanding regulatory compliance, a strong and highly efficient manufacturing capability and a business-friendly ecosystem, including EU Single Market access and security of supply, which have resulted in many of these companies making some of their most important and financially successful ‘blockbuster’ products in their Irish operations for global supply. And this strong global position is reflected in the latest trade data.”

Ireland is the second largest exporter of chemicals/pharmaceutical products in the EU and in Q1 2020 exported €27.1bn in chemicals/pharmaceuticals globally.  While €10.5bn was exported to the US (39% of total), Ireland exported €11.3bn worth of chemicals/pharmaceuticals to the EU-27 (42% of total) and €5.3bn (19%) to the Rest of the World. “This sector has grown and developed in Ireland as it makes good business sense for the companies concerned and Government remains committed to this and other sectors in support of good jobs for our citizens, offering a key business-friendly location for companies with a global footprint”, added Minister Humphreys.

“The CSO data demonstrates that the fundamentals of the Irish economic performance – pre-COVID – were rooted in a global, competitive, innovative, high-end manufacturing capacity – allied to an extensive blue-chip services economy. And it is these strengths that give me confidence that we have a strong base from which to base our Post-COVID economic recovery, once we have seen out the current health crisis.  On this basis, we can be optimistic for Ireland and for employment recovery for our citizens post-COVID” concluded the Minister.


Notes to Editor

  • The value of goods exports (unadjusted) in March 2020 increased by €4,573m or 39 % compared with the same month in 2019.  For Q1 2020 the value of goods exports rose by €4,777m or 13% when compared to Q1 2019.
  • In March 2020 exports of Medical and pharmaceutical products increased by a very significant €2,187 million (+60%) compared with March 2019, accounting for 36% of total exports for the month.
  • Exports of Organic chemicals increased by €2,372 million (+121%) million in March 2020 compared with March 2019 and Exports of Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances increased by €273 million (+47%) to €854 million.
  • The EU which accounted for 37% of goods exports in March 2020, saw a 37% increase in these exports in March 2020 compared to the same month in 2019. The USA accounted for 33% of total exports in March 2020.
  • Goods imports (unadjusted) in March 2020 fell by a value of €726 million or -9% when compared to March 2019.  Imports of Other transport equipment, including aircraft decreased by €886 million (-54%) to €766 million in March 2020 compared with March 2019 while imports of Organic chemicals increased by €238 million (+91%) to €499 million.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information please contact Press Office, D/Business, Enterprise and Innovation, or (01) 631 2200

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