Goods exports to Britain fall as imports rise in 2018

The trade deficit in goods between the Republic and Britain widened last year, reflecting the competitive fall in the value of sterling against the euro, new figures suggest.

The CSO said the trade deficit in goods across the Irish Sea came to €4.22bn in 2018, after exports into Britain fell and imports from Britain rose, according to CSO figures.

Exports to Britain fell by 3%, or by €441m, to €14.08bn in 2018 from 2017, while imports from Britain rose 5%, or by €811m, to €18.3bn. The trade figures are for goods only and do not include the substantial trade in services between the Republic and Britain. Sterling has fallen around 15% against the euro since the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

Analysts had long anticipated that there would be some sort of effect on Irish exporting firms, in particular on SMEs, in selling into Britain because weak sterling can make contracts loss-making. The many Irish firms involved in import businesses can, however, benefit as sterling falls. The CSO figures showed that all exports and imports in goods both increased last year. Total exports amounted to €140.83bn in the year, up 14.8% from 2017.

And total imports rose 13.8% to €90.17bn, meaning there was an overall global surplus in goods of almost €50.66bn.

The CSO said that exports to Britain accounted for 11% of all goods exports in December, comprising large amounts of exports of chemicals and exports of food and live animals.

In the same month, imports from Britain accounted for 20% of all global imports, with mineral fuels, machinery and transport equipment, and food and live animals making large contributions.

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