Exports from Ireland dropped by 17% in August, driven by falls in sales of chemicals and related products, as well as electrical machinery, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.
In total €16 billion of goods left the country during the month, down €3.3 billion on August of last year.
The biggest decline was recorded in organic chemicals, which dropped from just over €5 billion in August 2022 to €1.68 billion in the same month this year, or 66%.
However, exports of medical and pharmaceutical products, which have fluctuated in recent months due to a fall off in vaccines, rose in August by €414m or 6% to €6.9 billion, making up 43% of total exports for the month.
Overall though that sector’s exports remain down 6% over the first eight months of the year, at €51.6 billion.
The category of machinery and transport equipment also registered a decline in exports in August of 10% to €2.2 billion, leaving it down almost 16% for the year to date.
Within that, the value of exported electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances and parts, which includes high value goods like semiconductors, was down 51% in the month and has fallen almost 41% so far this year, to €5.8 billion.
In its latest Quarterly Bulletin, the Central Bank speculated that the decline in exports of vaccines may be due to a fall-off in demand following the Covid-19 pandemic, while the fall off in exports of semiconductors may be due to economic weakness in China and trade tension between it and the US.
The value of food and live animal exports fell slightly in the month, but is up a small amount overall between January and August.
But the value of crude materials, and of mineral fuels and lubricants, both fell in August, and are down markedly for the year.
For the year so far, exports between January and August are down just under 5% at €133 billion.
Exports to Great Britain fell by 15% to €1.3 billion in August when compared to the same month last year, with the largest decrease of 42% recorded in the category of chemicals and related products.
The value of goods exported to the EU also fell in August by €2.4 billion or 28%, but are up 2% in the year to date.
But exports to the US are 14% lower in the January to August period versus the same timeframe in 2022, following a 4% drop in August.
However, while the value of exports during August fell, so too did imports, dropping €2.7 billion during the period or 21% compared to a year earlier.
Overall, imports are now down slightly for the first eight months of the year at €90.5 billion, a fall of less than 1%.
Imports from Great Britain fell by 14% to €1.8 billion in August when compared with August of 2022, while the largest drop was in the imports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials.
Imports from Northern Ireland were down 19% in August, while from the USA they fell 34%.