Arab markets show continued growth for Irish exporters in first six months

Merchandise exports up by 12% to end June 2013

June 2013

The latest CSO figures show that Ireland’s merchandise exports to the Arab markets grew by 12% in the twelve month period to end June 2013, an increase of €197m over the previous period, to reach a total of €1.82 billion.

Imports from the Arab countries grew by €432 over the same period to reach a total of €876m, representing an increase of 97% over the previous twelve months. The balance of trade in Ireland’s favour was €945m, or around 52% of our total merchandise exports to the region.

Saudi Arabia (€700m), the United Arab Emirates (€342m) and Egypt (€132m) remain as Ireland’s biggest markets in the Arab world, while Algeria (€489m) and Libya (€221m) together account for 85% of Ireland’s imports from the region.

The main exports are soft drink concentrates, baby formula, medical/pharmaceutical products, agrifood, telecommunications and computer equipment. The main imports from the region are oil and petroleum products (85% of total), fertilizers, food, clothing and various kinds of machinery and equipment.

Exports to Libya have picked up rapidly with an almost 5 fold increase to €50m. Iraq too continues to recover with exports up by 26% to a total of €56m.

Reflecting the current political unrest, shipments to Syria continue to decline with a fall of 50% to €11m over the period. However, exports to Lebanon have grown by 49% to €76m.

A notable development has been the resumption of live cattle exports, mainly to Libya, with an increase from €3.5m in 2011/2012 to €17m in 2012/2013.

Commenting on these latest figures, the Chairman of the AICC, Mr. Joe Geoghegan, said the continued steady growth in Arab-Irish trade reflects the significance and potential of the Arab markets for Ireland, especially at a time when many of our biggest trading partners are contracting. “Total exports to the Arab region could reach a record €4 billion by the end of the year when exports of Services are included” he said. These figures highlight the need for more Irish companies to turn their attention to the opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa, especially those most affected by the slow-down in Europe and North America.

The AICC is planning to run a series of training seminars in the coming months to assist exporters to learn about the Arab markets and to prepare for their first research visits to the region.

AICC half year figures 2013.docx