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Foreign trade figures of Ireland

Foreign Trade in Figures

Ireland is a very open economy, and therefore very dependent on the international economic situation and vulnerable to external shocks. Trade accounted for 234% of GDP in 2022 (World Bank). In the same year, the pharmaceutical sector constituted 55% of the overall export value, totalling more than EUR 112 billion. Enterprises within the manufacturing & construction sector contributed exports valued at EUR 44.8 billion (22%), while the agri-food sector accounted for EUR 18.5 billion in exports, representing 9% of the total export value. In 2022, the retail & wholesale sector emerged as the primary importer, responsible for importing goods worth EUR 43.2 billion, constituting 31% of the total. Meanwhile, the services sector, encompassing aircraft leasing companies, imported goods valued at EUR 26.5 billion, representing 19% of the total imports. Imports of chemicals & related products accounted for EUR 38 billion (27%), while food & live animal imports accounted for 7% of the total (data CSO).

In 2022, the United States emerged as Ireland’s foremost export market, with exports exceeding EUR 63 billion, constituting 30% of the total. Germany stood as the second-largest export partner, with EUR 25 billion worth of exports (12%), trailed by the United Kingdom with EUR 22 billion (11%). Belgium (8%) and the Netherlands (7%) rounded off the list of the top five export markets for Ireland. The UK was the biggest source of imports in 2022 (21%), followed by the U.S. (16%), China (10%), France (9%), and Germany (7% - data CSO).

The Irish trade balance is structurally in surplus. According to the WTO, in 2022 Ireland exported goods with a record total value of USD 213.6 billion, while imports reached USD 146 billion (+12% and +21.3% y-o-y, respectively). The country also exported USD 355.1 billion worth of services (+2.2%) against USD 372.8 billion in imports (+7.5%). The country’s trade balance was estimated to be positive by 39.9% of GDP in 2022 (World Bank). According to the Central Statistics Office, comparing the first 11 months of 2023 with the same period in 2022, exports of goods were down 5% (to EUR 183.2 billion), while the value of imports fell by 2% (EUR 125.4 billion).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 107,669101,10499,823120,315146,048
Exports of Goods (million USD) 164,794169,625180,104190,658213,688
Imports of Services (million USD) 242,788375,826372,887346,604372,833
Exports of Services (million USD) 223,489257,650290,974347,287355,174

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 217.1252.2247.8229.4236.6
Trade Balance (million USD) 129,048133,368162,713199,347212,501
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 110,47949,33482,228206,530213,051
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.542.3-2.1-8.319.0
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 9.811.811.214.115.0
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 94.3124.4114.495.099.6
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 122.8127.9133.3134.4137.0

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 2.05.55.04.04.0
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 2.46.05.55.05.0

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Ireland is a member of the following international economic organisations: IMF, European Union, ICC, European Economic Area, WTO, Organization of American States (OAS) (observer), OECD, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates Ireland click here. International organisation membership of Ireland is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by Ireland can be consulted here.
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
United States 30.3%
Germany 12.1%
United Kingdom 10.6%
Belgium 8.4%
Netherlands 6.8%
See More Countries 31.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
United Kingdom 20.8%
United States 15.8%
China 10.2%
France 9.3%
Germany 7.5%
See More Countries 36.4%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

219.5 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and immunological products, whether or not modified or obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 22.1%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 10.9%
Heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom[s...Heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom[s] only 10.6%
Electronic integrated circuits; parts thereofElectronic integrated circuits; parts thereof 5.4%
Nucleic acids and their salts, whether or not...Nucleic acids and their salts, whether or not chemically defined; heterocyclic compounds (excl. with oxygen only or with nitrogen hetero-atom[s] only) 5.1%
See More Products 45.9%
148.6 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Powered aircraft "e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes...Powered aircraft "e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes"; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 11.7%
Heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom[s...Heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom[s] only 9.7%
Electronic integrated circuits; parts thereofElectronic integrated circuits; parts thereof 4.4%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and immunological products, whether or not modified or obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 4.1%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 3.5%
See More Products 66.7%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: February 2024