AICC Special Report : Arab Irish Trade Figures 2013

July 2014

The Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce is pleased to publish its special report detailing Irish merchandise exports and imports with the Arab Markets for 2013.

The trade figures, from the Central Statistics Office, show that Ireland’s favourable balance of trade with the Arab markets grew by €427m to reach €1.184 billion, equivalent to approximately 70% of our total merchandise exports to the region, in 2013.

Over the same period, Ireland’s merchandise exports to the Arab markets declined by 4%, a decrease of €70m compared to the previous year, to reach a total of €1.68 billion.

Imports from the Arab countries fell by €498m over the same period to reach a total of €496m, representing a decrease of 50% over the previous 12 months.

Shipments to the UAE declined by €85m or 23%; Kuwait registered a fall of €42m or 43%, and Syria fell by €12m or 68%.

The main product categories which account for these changes are Telecommunications Equipment, which was down by €55m or 56%, and Organic Chemicals, which was down by €24m or 62%.

The drop in imports is accounted for by a fall in shipments of oil from Algeria.

Saudi Arabia (€642m), the United Arab Emirates (€289m) and Egypt (€138m) remain as Ireland’s biggest markets in the Arab world, while Algeria (€157m) and Libya (€164m) together account for 64% of Ireland’s imports from the region.

The main export categories 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, fertilizers, food, clothing and various kinds of machinery and equipment.

A notable development has been the resumption of live cattle exports, mainly to Libya, with an increase from €6.0m in 2012 to €22m in 2013.

“These year-end figures reflect a number of different factors at work, including political unrest in some markets, the impact of patent removal in the pharmaceutical sector and the global economic slowdown generally,” says Joe Geoghegan, Chairman of the AICC. “However, they also show growth in many sectors, especially those which are served by indigenous Irish exporters, and the improving economic outlook for the region should see a return to positive growth in 2014,” he added.

The figures for exports of services are not yet available but they are expected to show a total value in excess of that for merchandise exports, with a healthy growth rate over 2012.

While the figures for the volume of trade between Ireland and the Arab markets reveal a decrease of 4% compared to 2012, the total value is, nonetheless, particularly impressive, standing at €1.6bn. Arab imports for the year, meanwhile, decreased by 50%, which is primarily down to the importation of petroleum from this region, explained Ahmad R. Younis, Secretary General of AICC.

The Secretary General went on to explain that Ireland is still a very positive place to do business, and that these points speak for themselves:

  • Ireland is the world's 2nd largest exporter of software
  • Ireland is the world's 4th largest exporter of beef
  • 15% of the world's supply of infant formula is produced in Ireland

A hard copy of this report can be requested from the Chamber. Please email info@aicc.ie.

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