Friday, December 14, 2012

14/12/2012: Irish external trade in goods: October 2012

Irish trade in goods stats are out for October 2012 and here are the core highlights (aal seasonally adjusted):

  • Imports of goods in value have fallen from €4.482bn in September to €4.188 billion in October, a m/m decline of €294mln (-6.56%) and y/y increase of €327mln (+8.47%). Compared to October 2010, imports are up 16.43%
  • Imports were running close to historical average of €4.404bn in October, but below pre-crisis average of €4.673bn and ahead of crisis-period average of €4.126bn. Year-to-date average through October was €4.109, so October imports were relatively average.
  • Exports increased from €7.349bn in September to €7.468bn in October (up €119mln or +1.62%). Year on year, however, exports are up only €7 million or +0.09% and compared to October 2010 Irish exports of goods are down 1.48%.
  • Year-to-date average exports are at monthly €7.687bn which means October exports were below this, although October exports were very close to the crisis period average of €7.433bn.

  • Overall, the rise of €423mln in trade surplus can be attributed as follows: 71.2% of trade surplus increase came from shrinking imports, while 28.8% came from rising exports. Not exactly robust performance, especially given exports are up only 0.09% y/y.
  • Trade surplus expanded by 14.4% m/m after a rather significant drop off in September. However, october trade surplus at €3.28bn was still the second lowest reading in 7 months.
  • Year on year, trade surplus in October actually fell €321 million or -8.91% and compared to October 2010 trade suplus is down 17.65%. These are massive declines and worrying.
  • Trade surplus in October 2012 stood ahead of the historical average of €2.903bn and ahead of pre-crisis average of €2.513bn - both heavily influenced by much more robust domestic consumption in years before the crisis. Crisis period average of €3.307 is slightly ahead of October 2012 reading. However, average monthly trade surplus for 12 months through October was more robust (€3.578bn) than that for October 2012.

Here are some charts on the relationship between exports, imports and trade balance:

Accordingly with the above, imports intensity of exports rose slightly in October on foot of a steep fall-off in imports, rising 8.75% m/m. However, the metric of 'productivity' of irish exporting sectors is now down 7.72% y/y and down 15.38% on October 2010. During crisis period, Exports/Imports ratio averages 182.4%, while YTD the ratio averages 188.0%. In October 2012 it stood at 178.3% well behind both longer term trend metrics.

Lastly, the above relatively poor performance of exporting sector came amidst two forces, both representing adverse headwinds for Irish exporters:

  1. Global trade slowdown
  2. Term of trade deterioration.

October 2012 on October 2011, saw decreases in the value of exports of Chemicals and related
products - down -€253 million (or -6%), and a decrease of €513 million in Organic chemicals, "partially offset by an increase of €208 million in Medical and pharmaceutical products" per CSO. Further per CSO: "The value of exports increased for Miscellaneous manufactured articles (up €91 million), Mineral fuels (up €54 million), Machinery and transport equipment (up €47 million) and Food and live animals (up €39 million)... The larger increases were for imports of Food and live
animals (up €116 million), Mineral fuels (up €96 million) and Machinery and transport equipment (up €92 million)."

So to summarize: headline rise in tarde surplus is driven more than 3/4 by drop off in imports, with exports performing poorly on y/y basis and m/m basis. However, we have to be cognizant of the adverse headwinds experienced by irish exporters in global markets and by the continued effect of pharma patent cliff.
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