Latest data for Merchandise trade for June 2013 allows us to make some comparatives for the first half of the year. Here are some stats, all covering only merchandise trade:
- Total Imports rose in H1 2013 by 3.12% on H2 2012 and were down 2.39% on H1 2012. Imports were up 3.11% in H1 2013 compared to the 6 months cumulative averages over the three years from H1 2010 through H2 2012. H1 2013 levels of imports were 23.2 below their peak for any 6 months period since H1 2000.
- Total Exports fell in H1 2013 by 4.35% on H2 2012 and were down 6.55% on H1 2012. Exports declined, in absolute terms by EUR3.045 billion year-on-year. This marked the largest 6-mo cumulative drop in exports since H1 2003, marking the H1 2013 the worst year-on-year 6 months period since then.
- Exports were down 4.48% in H1 2013 compared to the 6 months cumulative averages over the three years from H1 2010 through H2 2012. H1 2013 levels of exports were 12.43% below their peak for any 6 months period since H1 2000.
- Trade Surplus fell 12.62% on H2 2012 and was down 11.47% in H1 2013 compared to H1 2012. In level terms, trade surplus was down EUR2.442 billion in H1 2013 compared to H1 2012, marking the worst 6 months period since H1 2005.
Charts below illustrate the trends:
Good news, per chart above, Trade Surplus is still running above 2000-present average, although Exports are now running below their 2000-present average. Bad news, the above chart does not adjust for inflation.
Not-too-good news is, exports are now in the negative territory in terms of y/y changes. Remember, we need positive growth in total (merchandise and services) exports of ca 5% per annum to maintain any semblance of sustainability. Here's the tricky bit:
As chart above shows, we really need rapid, very rapid growth in services exports to return our total exports and trade balance to where we need them to be to maintain economic activity at the levels that will be consistent with long-term gradual reduction of public debt. Over the last 5 years, merchandise exports in Ireland grew on average at 0.59% y/y and over the last 10 years this growth was 0.94%. Owing to the recent collapse in our imports, our trade balance grew on average at 11.73% in the last 5 years. However, over the last 10 years the growth in our trade balance was much less dramatic 3.18%.