Economics: Ireland’s seasonally-adjusted trade surplus likely to have fall back again in March

The domestic economic focus on Wednesday turns to the external trade figures for March, which will be released by the Central Statistics Office later this morning. There was a fall in the seasonally-adjusted surplus in February from the record-high posted in the opening month of the year.

The surplus dropped back to €3,988m, down €1,560m from the revised positive balance of €5,548m (€5,511m) seen in January. Seasonally-adjusted exports were down 11.8% in the month at €10,922m, while imports recorded an increase of 1.4% to €6,934m.

Meanwhile, on an unadjusted basis there was a surplus of €3,946m in February, €79m above the surplus of €3,867m posted in the second month of 2017. The unadjusted value of exports in February was €10,314m, €115m (1.1%) up on February 2017.

Exports of Medical and pharmaceutical products increased by €565m (18.2%) to €3,656m and Organic chemicals rose by €126m (7.9%) in the year to €1,712m. However, exports of Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances fell by €343m (-47.0%) to €385m.

The trade outlook going forward remains clouded in uncertainty due to “Brexit”, but we are still anticipating another solid performance this year, with a surplus of around €45bn now forecast.

As regards March, the poor weather conditions in the month are likely to have hampered trade, and we are looking for the seasonally-adjusted merchandise trade surplus to have fallen back to around €3,700m.

Alan McQuaid (16/5/18)
Economist