Irish Trade figures from the Central Statistics Office:
The monthly trade surplus reached €5bn for the first time on record. Trade surplus is the value of exports over the value of imports. The market was driven by medical devices which grew 30% to €3bn.
Imports fell in March by 15% to €5.8bn.
Merrion stockbrokers predict that the annual trade surplus will reach €49bn - €50bn.
Exports to Britain for January & February 4%, but dropped 1% in March.
The EU imported 49% of all Irish exports.
The US accounted for 27% of all Irish exports.
Concerns were raised again about the impact of Brexit as Ireland imports 30% of goods from the UK, and exports 17% of its goods to the UK. 30% of all Irish employment is based within the sectors that export to the UK.
The main bulk of our imports come from the EU with 64%, 13% from the US and 6% from China.
Enterprise Ireland have launched plans to grow exports by 50% to the eurozone by 2020 as it tries to lift the dependence off the UK.
The IMF’s forecast of Irish growth are below the Department of Finance’s. The IMF predicts the Irish economy to grow 3.5% this year vs 4.3% predicted by the Irish government.
The trade surplus dropped 9% in February to €4.7bn from January’s record-high of €5.74bn. Exports increased 3% in February and imports grew by 16%. The increase in imports impacted heavily on the month’s trade surplus bringing it down by €452m.
The Bank of Ireland’s Consumer and Business sentiment ‘Pulse’ report reveals that 39% of respondents expect house prices to rise more than 5% this year, with 40% believing that it is the time to make ‘big ticket’ purchases.
Three Irish companies have won contracts with the European Space Agency as Ireland makes progress within the space industry. The companies are Innalabs, Pilot Photonics and Enbio. The contracts are in the technology and communication systems.
The EU as a whole recovered a rise of 8.4% in new car registrations however Ireland was the only country to show a decline with sales of passenger cars decreasing by 8.3% during Quarter 1. Irish consumers are importing cars from Britain due to the fall in Sterling following Brexit. A report by the Society of Irish Motor Industry has predicted that sales overall for 2017 could fall 10%. Donegal saw the biggest drop in registrations at 19% with Dublin showing marginal decline at 1.7%.
Davy Stockbrokers have adjusted upwards their 2017 growth forecasts for the Irish economy from 3.7% in January to 5%. Consumer spending is expected to grow upwards to 3.4%. Growth in exports is expected to grow 4.5% this year and 4.4% in 2018. 2016 saw exports grow at 2.4%. Unemployment is due to fall to 5.3% in 2018 and 2018 is expected to see growth of 3.8%.
Figures released at the start of May show tax receipts to be 2.4% behind target. This was attributed to the Universal Social Charge and a review is underway. Corporation Tax was 27% behind target with concerns arising that 40% of corporation tax collected in 2016 was from just 10 companies. Excise duty was 6.3% behind target and this was mainly because of front-loading on tobacco.
Energy efficiency projects will receive €26m worth of grants in order to provide upgrades to 2000 homes and 479 public facilities. The SEAI is administering the scheme.
The net worth of Irish households has risen due to the increase in property prices. The average household is worth €137,000. This is 51% higher than during the crash. Net worth is defined as total assets less total debts. Overall, net worth stands at €654bn. Consumer debt is falling in Ireland at a faster rate than anywhere in the EU. Household debt is down 30% from peak to €144bn. Ireland remains the 4th highest indebted country in the EU.