Economics: Ireland’s external trade balance forecast to have fallen back in April.

The domestic economic focus on Friday turns to the external trade figures for April. There was a record seasonally-adjusted merchandise trade surplus of €5,051m in March, which was €557m higher than the revised surplus of €4,494m (€4,736m) posted in the second month of 2017. Based on the latest official data, March was the first time the surplus has broken the €5bn mark.

Seasonally-adjusted exports were down 4.0% in the month at €10,150m while imports recorded a big fall of 16.2% to €5,099m, more than reversing the 14.9% increase posted in February.

Meanwhile, on an unadjusted basis there was a record surplus of €5,247m in March, €1,950m above the surplus of €3,297m posted in the third month of 2016. However, the timing of Easter could be a factor here. For 2016 as a whole, the surplus was revised down to €45,521m from €46,170m, but still a record-high and €3,225m greater than the previous record surplus of €42,296m in 2015.

The trade outlook going forward remains clouded in uncertainty due to “Brexit”, but we are still anticipating another solid performance this year. Indeed, based on the very positive start to 2017, another record surplus now looks on the cards of around €49-50bn.

Meanwhile, a seasonally-adjusted surplus of €4,400m is projected for April.

Alan McQuaid (16/06/17)
Economist