Wednesday, September 19 10:32:14
Last year saw the second highest export volumes on record and, combined with a bottoming out of import volumes, this augers well for a return to stability in the transport and shipping sector, the Irish Exporters Association (IEA) said today.
Speaking at the launch of the IEA's Transport and Trade 2012 Publication, its chief executive, John Whelan, said that the analysis shows an increase in export volumes of 7.9pc, rising from 13.9 million tonnes in 2010 to 15.0 million tonnes in 2011.
"This is the second highest on record and is mainly based on the rapid growth of our agri-food and drink sector over the past two years. The corresponding increase in the value of exports was 5.2pc increasing from E88.3 billion to E92.9 billion in 2011, which also represents a high point in merchandise exports sales. However, the Publication also shows that import volumes continue to stagnate, and remain 23pc below the 2007 levels," he said.
The figures show that imports volumes decreased by 2.3pc from 35.1 million tonnes in 2010 to 34.3 million tonnes in 2011, although the value of imports increased from E44.4 billion to E47.4 billion due to the increase in the price of oil and the weakness of the euro.
The fall in import volumes appears to have bottomed out, which will be some comfort to shipping lines who have seen volumes of imports fall by 23pc since the start of the recession 2008, Mr Whelan said.
Overall the volume of goods moving through Irelands seaports, airports, and by road in the care of exports to Northern Ireland increased by less than 1pc to 49.3 tonnes in 2011.
Sea freight export volumes increased from 7.9 million tonnes to 8.6 million tonnes in the period, whereas sea freight imports decreased between 2010 and 2011 from 22.9 million tonnes to 22.7 million tonnes.
Road freight import volumes remained almost static at about 2.1 million tonnes in 2011 which, combined with a drop in export volumes of 7.3pc from 1.9 to 1.7 million tonnes points to an extremely challenging year for the road transport industry.
While airfreight imports have remained flat in 2011 at about E8.9 billion on a volume of about 55,000 tonnes, air freight exports have shown another annual rise of 9pc from E30 billion to E32.8 billion and now account for over 35pc of the entire value of Ireland's merchandise exports.
Tony Kelly, Director of Irish Continental Group, commenting at the launch said "The Irish Continental Group is delighted to sponsor the publication of the Irish Exporters Association Trade and Transport Analysis 2012. As a business which relies heavily on Ireland's export and import sectors, we maintain a deep interest in having timely and relevant trade data to assist in our own analysis and planning".
"There is little doubt that we are enduring what has become one of the most difficult trading periods since the foundation of the state. At Irish Continental Group, we believe that the path to Ireland's recovery lies in providing products and services which our trading partners require, delivered in a fast, efficient and cost effective manner."