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Surplus surpasses €4.1bn

IRELAND’S seasonally adjusted trade surplus reached a record high of nearly €4.1 billion in June — keeping the country on course to meet a new peak for the full year.

However, export performance is expected to dip slightly in the coming months.

June’s surplus was up 8% on May’s €3.8bn, which itself represented a 44% increase on the previous month. On a non-adjusted basis, the surplus for June reached €4.47bn (comprising exports of €8.3bn and imports of €3.9bn), the highest since the same month in 2001.

The figures, published yesterday by the CSO, were broadly welcomed.

IBEC said they demonstrated "the crucial contribution trade is making to the economy".

Jobs and Innovation Minister Richard Bruton said "it is heartening to know that despite the turbulent international markets into which we are exporting, our exports are continuing to perform to an extremely high level".

But a note of caution was aired by Bloxham Stockbrokers chief economist Alan McQuaid While anticipating another record full-year trading surplus, of about €45bn, for 2011, he said Irish exports are likely to slow in parallel with the world’s economy.

"The export sector will be the key driver of Ireland’s economic recovery — in the short-term at least — and the performance in the year-to-date has been very good all things considered.

"However, with clear signs that the global economy is slowing down, Ireland’s export figures are likely to weaken in the coming months, which in turn will have negative implications for the country’s overall growth prospects this year.

"Still, it is clear that Ireland has a very healthy and dynamic export model, putting it in a much better position than other eurozone ‘peripheral’ debt countries to move forward once the world economy regains momentum."

Chambers Ireland echoed that sentiment.

Its deputy chief executive Sean Murphy said: "The fact that we’ve just recorded the highest seasonally adjusted trade surplus ever highlights the almost unique potential for Ireland, as opposed to many other eurozone countries, to export our way towards economic recovery."

He said exports are playing an essential role in Ireland’s economic recovery, and that this strengthens the need for an enterprise loan guarantee scheme, "so that more viable businesses can borrow to invest in new markets and, ultimately, create and retain more jobs for the future".

The latest external trade figures showed that over half of Ireland’s exports during the first five months went to the US, Britain and Belgium.

 This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, August 24, 2011

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