Latest CSO Export Update

Commentary Carol Lynch

In September 2023, there was a notable €3.5 billion decrease in exports compared to the same month last year, marking an 18% year-on-year decline. Looking at the broader picture, from January to September 2023, exports have fallen by €9.7 billion, a 6% drop compared to the same period in 2022. This downturn in export performance has been particularly pronounced in the last two months, with reductions of €3 billion and €3.5 billion in August and September, respectively. 
This is driven by reductions in Global Trade in particular in Organic Chemicals/Pharmaceuticals and Semiconductors.

Firstly, the continued reduction in exports of organic chemicals/pharma is not entirely unexpected. This sector, which plays a critical role in vaccine manufacturing, is naturally contracting as the global demand for COVID-19 vaccines diminishes. This shift is indicative of the world gradually moving beyond the peak of the pandemic, leading to a downturn in the production and export of these specific chemicals back to a more normal level. On the other side we are seeing significant recent investment in new projects in this area and the leading companies announcing new investments in Ireland which is positive news for future growth. 
Regarding electrical machinery, the situation is more complex and reflective of broader geopolitical dynamics. This area covers semiconductors and chips and us heavily influenced by the current geopolitical tensions with China. We've seen a significant reduction in exports to China, particularly in this sector, which is a cornerstone of our IT industry. This decline can be attributed to the heightened geopolitical tensions and growing concerns regarding the export of high-tech equipment to China. The global technology landscape is evolving, and Ireland, with its strong IT base, is inevitably impacted by these changes.
These sector-specific issues highlight the intricate relationship between global events and our export performance. The downturn in organic chemicals is a direct consequence of shifting health priorities worldwide, while the challenges in IT exports underscore the broader geopolitical and economic factors at play.
Furthermore, as we observe the evolving trade landscape with the UK, particularly in light of the border procedures set to be applied at the Great Britain border in early 2024, there is a clear forewarning for Irish exporters, especially in the food sector. While exports to the UK have remained solid in the food and agri sector, again Chemical exports are down in September these upcoming changes could introduce new frictions. It's imperative for Irish food exporters to remain vigilant and continue preparing for these changes to navigate potential complexities and sustain the trade momentum.


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