Irish Exports reached a record high for 2016 with a value of €116.9bn. However, exports to the UK have fallen by €496m to €13.3bn (4%) as a direct result of Brexit. Imports from Britain dropped by €1.36bn (8%) in figures released by the Central Statistics Office. Electrical exports saw the largest increase at 150%. Exports to the US grew by 12% but were down 0.3% to the EU. The 2016 figure was 4% higher than 2015. Imports into Ireland fell 1% in 2016 YoY, to €69.9bn. The Preliminary Trade Surplus stands at €47.3bn.
January 2017 saw Ireland’s unemployment rate drop to 6.8%, its lowest in 9 years. Long-term unemployed however saw barely any reduction in 2016. Those who are long-term unemployed (i.e. out of work over one year) account for half of those out of work.
The National Spatial Strategy plan – called Ireland 2040 - has been revealed by Minister Simon Coveney. Minister Coveney warned that action is required to drive growth to Galway, Cork, Limerick & Waterford. The report conveys that by 2040:
49% of Economic activity will occur in Dublin.
Employment is expected to rise by 25% to 2.5m
There will be 400,000 post-primary children
The population is expected to increase to 5.6m by 750,000
11 counties around Dublin are expected to become commuter towns
Computer Science is to be added to the Leaving Certificate curriculum due to growing demand for graduates from this area. Coding is also to be added to a new maths curriculum at primary school level.
2016 saw foreign direct investment from China grow to €2.7bn vs just €9.3m in 2015. Ireland is now the 5th largest market in Europe for investment from China.
Davy’s has revised its projected growth for the Irish economy from 3.75 to 5% as consumer confidence has grown more than expected during the start of the new year. Conall MacCoille of Davy’s also noted that manufacturing output grew by only 0.3% for 2016 due to Brexit.
Manufacturing output for December 2016 fell 11% when compared to November, and 1.8% down on December 2015. The falls came from the high-tech & pharmaceutical companies. Merrion stockbrokers advised that productivity looks uncertain this year due to Brexit.
The Government has been urged to get involved with the support and promotion of e-cars. It is expected that by 2020, sales of electric vehicles will not surpass even 7,000 despite Government’s targets of 50,000 in 4 years. Ireland is likely to face a fine of up to €6bn from the EC for not implementing a strategic plan to promote renewable transport. Of the 218,000 new car registrations in 2016, only 619 were electric vehicles. It is expected that at the Transport and Climate Summit, a new target of 20,000 by 2020 could well be achieved with Government support.
Car registrations for January were down 1.6% when compared with 2016 and is the only fall in January since 2013. However, imported cars grew by 76.7% in January, mainly from the UK due to the fall in sterling. 65.1% of all new cars were diesel. Goods vehicles however grew by 8.1% to 3016.
Irish shoppers have purchased more goods online from the British high street due to the weak sterling with new figures showing there was a 4% increase in January spending. The UK goods were likely to be shoes and clothes. Overall, shopping online for 2016 has increased by 12.3%. The figures were provided by Visa’s Irish Consumer Spending Index.
Enterprise Ireland supplied subsidies to 220 start-up companies in 2016 averaging out at €140,000 each. 28% of these start-ups were female-led, and over 50% of the overall start-ups were outside Dublin. Enterprise Ireland say that companies which have been financially assisted by them are now employing over 200,000 people.
Monthly minimum wages for Ireland are the 2nd highest in the EU at €1,563 per month with Luxembourg being the highest at €1,999 per month. Holland is in 3rd place at €1,552 per month. Bulgaria is the lowest in the EU, and is amongst 10 eastern European countries whose wages are less than €500 per month.
The European Commission has upgraded its projection for Irish growth for 2017 to 3.4%. Internal consumption will remain the driving force for the economy.