The value of Irish exports and imports hit a new record high last year, according to the Central Statistics Office, despite the challenging economic backdrop.
Total exports reached €208 billion, up over €42 billion or 26% compared with the previous year.
While total imports were worth €140 billion, an increase of €36 billion or 35%.
“In December 2022, Ireland’s unadjusted exports of goods increased by €1.7 billion to €14.8 billion compared with December 2021,” said Ciarán Counihan, Statistician in the International Trade in Goods Division.
“When seasonally adjusted, exports of goods rose by €575 million when compared with November 2022.”
The export growth was once again propelled in large part by the pharma sector, with the value of medical and pharmaceutical products rising by €17.4 billion across the year, or 28%, to €80 billion.
While organic chemical exports increased by almost €11 billion, or 42%, to €36.8 billion.
On the import side, the value of mineral fuels and lubricants brought into the country rose by 112% to over €13 billion across 2022.
While chemical imports increased in value by €12.5 billion, to €38.4 billion.
The value of machinery and transport equipment imports leapt by €9.3 billion to €50.1 billion.
“The war in Ukraine significantly influenced trade in 2022 as European countries re-aligned their trading relationships to wean themselves off Russian gas and ensure sufficient energy supplies were available this winter,” said Robert Purdue, FX Dealer of Ebury Partners Ireland.
“As such there has been a steep rise in petroleum and gas imports to replenish storage.”
“The increase in the export of goods was primarily driven by a significant increase in medical and pharmaceutical products leaving the country. This sector continues to dominate the exports of goods as the industry flourishes in Ireland.”
“It marks an impressive year of goods trade for Ireland in volatile economic times and indicates that Irish businesses can look to the future with renewed optimism as economies stabilise.”
The market that recorded the biggest increase in exports in 2022 was the EU, rising 31% or €18.9 billion to €80.6 billion compared to 2021.
Exports to Northern Ireland also rose by 31% or €1.2 billion.
Exports to the USA increased by 27% or €10.5 billion and to Great Britain by 19% or €2.8 billion, with the value of goods going to the rest of the world rising by 27%.
Meanwhile, there was a 55% increase in the value of imports from Great Britain, driven heavily by the massive jump in the cost of fuels, lubricants and related materials, as well as chemicals.
However, imports from there fell by 10% to €1.7 billion in December compared with the same month a year earlier.
“The largest decrease was in the imports of Chemicals & Related products while exports to Great Britain were unchanged in December 2022 compared with December 2021,” said
Across the full year, the value of imports from Northern Ireland rose 32%, with Brexit a likely factor there.
“The CSO figures for 2022 confirmed that there has been a significant increase in cross border trade on the island of Ireland in 2022 as the impact of Brexit continues,” said Jarlath O’Keefe, Grant Thornton Ireland.
“This is due in part to businesses adjusting their supply chains to avoid the administrative burden associated with importing goods from Britain.”
“It will be interesting to see if these trends continue into 2023 as many of the ‘new’ supply chains become established business relationships or whether changes to the NI protocol could have an impact on cross border trade.”
Imports from the EU27 rose 23% in value, from the USA by 20% and by 48% from the rest of the world, with chemicals including pharmaceutical products a big driver.
The figures have been welcomed by the Government, particularly in the context of what had been a challenging year for exporters.
“Against the backdrop of this global trading environment, Ireland has continued to maintain its excellent reputation as a world-class supplier of goods and services, while also successfully securing new business in markets around the world,” said Minister for Enterprise, Simon Coveney.
“I would like to congratulate the exporting companies, and our enterprise and development agencies, who have worked so hard to deliver results throughout the year.”