First for some interesting long-term trends:
- Back in 1973, 5 broad sectors: Total food and live animals (0), Beverages and tobacco (1), Crude materials, inedible, except fuels (2), Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (3) and Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes (4) accounted for 26.8% of our exports by value. By 2002 that number shrunk to 8.6%. The overall importance of these sectors rose to a local peak in 2007 at 12.75% and in 2010 the sectors contributed 12.1% of our exports. Using the data for the first 5 months of 2011, the current running contribution of these sectors to our overall exports stands at 11.2%, despite continued CAP supports and strong agri-food prices.
- Annual contribution of the two sub-sectors related to ICT manufacturing: Office machines and automatic data processing equipment (75) and Electrical machinery, appliances etc., n.e.s. (77) to our exports stood at 13.05%. This share rose to an absolute peak of 34.03% in 2001 and had since fallen to 8.6% in 2010. Based on 5 months data for 2011, current contribution of the two sub-sectors to exports is running at 7.15%.
- Annual contribution of the two sub-sectors related to pharma and medical products and preparation industry: Organic chemicals (51) and Medicinal and pharmaceutical products (54) started with a barely noticeable 4.35% back in 1973, rising to just 7.8% in 1987 before taking off to reach 48.9% in 2010. The two sub-sectors contributed 51.5% of our total value of exports in the first 5 months of 2011.
However, it is worth remembering that various exporting sectors are also importers - both of inputs into exports production and goods for consumption and capital investment. So consider the composition of our trade balance by each broad sector contribution:
The chart above hardly needs much commenting. Ireland's trade balance is pretty much now made up of pharmaceuticals and medical products. back in the 1970s, on average, we were net importers of Organic chemicals (51) & Medicinal & pharma products (54) with the two sub-sectors contributing 3.74% deficit to our trade balance. By 2010, the two sub-sectors own trade surplus stood at 86.1% of Ireland's overall trade surplus and in the first 5 months of 2011 the same proportion stood at 97.3%. Let's, say, our potency is Viagra, folks.
Which, of course, brings us to the point of recalling that scary moment which awaits us in 2012, when Viagra starts going off patent... and the overall patent cliff that the industry is facing globally.
In the mean time, our flagship domestic exporting sectors: Total food and live animals (0), Beverages and tobacco (1), Crude materials, inedible, except fuels (2), Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (3) and Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes (4) continue to contribute negatively to our overall trade balance. These sectors yielded 2.62% negative contribution to trade surplus in 2010 and in the first 5 months of this year they own trade deficits are running at 4.85% of our total trade surplus. By the way, if you think this is a new development, the same was true in the 2000-2009 (-0.23%).
2011 so far is also the first year when we are registering negative contribution to the trade balance from Office machines and automatic data processing equipment (75) and Electrical machinery, appliances etc., n.e.s. (77). Back in the 1970s these flagships of manufacturing were contributing 25.86% of our overall trade balance. In the 1980s 26.5%, in the 1990s 35.6% and in the 2000s +20.5%. In 2010 they accounted for 6.28% of the trade balance, but in the first 5 months of 2011 their contribution turned to negative 2.1%.
Some interesting stats to keep in mind when we talk about successes of our exporting sectors.