That dollar amount reflects a 28.8% increase compared to $166.1 billion during 2018.
Year over year, the overall value of Irish exports rose 9.2% from $196 billion in 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the euro depreciated by -12.1% against the US dollar since 2018 and weakened by -12.3% from 2021 to 2022. The weaker European Union currency in 2022 made Ireland’s exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively lesser expensive for international buyers.
Ireland’s biggest export products by value in 2022 were blood fractions including antisera, heterocyclics and nucleic acids, medication mixes in dosage, electronic integrated circuits or microassemblies, then miscellaneous heterocyclics. In aggregate, those major exports accounted for 59.2% of overall exports sales from Ireland. That percentage–and the products themselves–suggest a relatively concentrated range of exported goods.
Ireland places among world-leaders for exporting blood fractions including antisera, while ranking among the top exporters for drugs and medicines in general. The European nation is also a major competitor selling medical, surgical or veterinarian instruments on international markets.
Ireland’s Best International Trade Customers
The latest available country-specific data shows that 86.7% of products exported from Ireland were bought by importers in: United States of America (29.3% of its global total), Germany (12.4%), United Kingdom (10.8%), Belgium (8.6%), Netherlands (6.9%), mainland China (6.4%), France (3.5%), Italy (2.2%), Japan (1.9%), Canada (1.6%), Switzerland (also 1.6%) and Spain (1.3%).
From a continental perspective, 52.4% of Ireland exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 32.4% were sold to North American importers. Ireland shipped another 12.7% worth of goods to Asia.
Smaller percentages went to Oceania (1%) led by Australia and New Zealand, Africa (0.97%) then Latin America (0.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Given Ireland’s population of 5.04 million people, its total $214 billion in 2022 exported goods translates to an impressive $42,000 for every resident in the island country. That per-capita amount compares to an average $37,700 in 2021.
Ireland’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Irish global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Ireland.
- Pharmaceuticals: US$75.5 billion (35.3% of total exports)
- Organic chemicals: $46.3 billion (21.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $18.5 billion (8.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $16.4 billion (7.7%)
- Machinery including computers: $9.6 billion (4.5%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $6 billion (2.8%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $4.6 billion (2.1%)
- Meat: $4.11 billion (1.9%)
- Other chemical goods: $4.04 billion (1.9%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $2.4 billion (1.1%)
Ireland’s top 10 exports accounted for 87.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Organic chemicals was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 24.7% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving export sales was the dairy, eggs and honey category, rising 20.2%.
Ireland’s shipments of pharmaceuticals posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 11.8% year over year.
The leading decliner among Ireland’s top 10 export categories was perfumes and cosmetics dragged down by a -38.5% reduction.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Ireland’s Most Valuable Export Products further down below.
Products Generating the Greatest Trade Surpluses for Ireland
Ireland posted an overall $68.1 billion trade surplus during 2022, down by -7% from $73.2 billion in black ink one year earlier in 2021.
The following types of Irish product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Pharmaceuticals: US$63.7 billion (Up by 12.5% since 2021)
- Organic chemicals: $27.4 billion (Up by 11.1%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $13.8 billion (Up by 7.4%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $4.4 billion (Down by -48.4%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $3.5 billion (Up by 17.8%)
- Meat: $3.4 billion (Up by 5.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $2.1 billion (Down by -20%)
- Other chemical goods: $1.9 billion (Down by -24.5%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $1.4 billion (Up by 11.8%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $1.2 billion (Up by 66.5%)
Ireland has highly positive net exports in the international trade of pharmaceuticals, a relatively recession-proof industry albeit it can be subject to product development cycles. The above cashflows indicate Ireland’s strong competitive advantages under the global pharmaceuticals product category.
Products Causing the Greatest Trade Deficits for Ireland
Below are exports from Ireland that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Ireland’s goods trail Irish importer spending on foreign products.
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -US$13.3 billion (Down by -1.3% since 2021)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$11.5 billion (Up by 85.7%)
- Machinery including computers: -$7.1 billion (Up by 87.7%)
- Vehicles: -$4.7 billion (Up by 6.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$2 billion (Up by 17.8%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$1.4 billion (Up by 0.6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.2 billion (Up by 6.9%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$1.1 billion (Down by -0.9%)
- Fertilizers: -$1.1 billion (Up by 94.4%)
- Paper, paper items: -$1.1 billion (Up by 25.8%)
Ireland has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for aircraft and spacecraft.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Ireland’s competitive disadvantages in the aeronautical products market, but also represent key opportunities for Ireland to improve its position in the global economy through focused technological innovations.
Major Irish Export Companies
Ireland placed 19 companies on the Forbes Global 2000 rankings. The following selected corporations are examples of world-leading Irish companies.
- Accenture (computer services)
- Actavis (pharmaceuticals)
- Covidien (medical equipment, supplies)
- CRH (construction materials)
- Ingersoll-Rand (conglomerates)
- Kerry Group (food processing)
- Perrigo (pharmaceuticals)
- Seagate Technology (computer storage devices)
- Shire (pharmaceuticals)
- Smurfit Kappa Group (paper products)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are examples of entrepreneurial Irish exporters.
- Armstrong Medical (mercury, inorganic bases, calcium)
- Bolger Engineering (iron/non-alloy steel products, electric motor parts, generators)
- Carlow Brewing (malt beer, acyclic polyhydric alcohols)
- Tratech Ireland (machine tool parts and accessories)
Searchable List of Ireland’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Ireland during 2022. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2021.
|Rank||Irish Export Product||Value (US$)||YOY|
|1||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$48,581,994,000||+11%|
|2||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$23,316,632,000||+25.3%|
|3||Medication mixes in dosage||$22,458,160,000||-0.5%|
|6||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$9,463,024,000||+23%|
|7||Hormones, miscellaneous steroids||$7,645,405,000||+18.4%|
|9||Scents for beverage/industrial manufacturing||$5,451,962,000||-40.9%|
|10||Computers, optical readers||$3,548,409,000||+11.3%|
|12||Chemical industry products/residuals||$2,426,685,000||-11.6%|
|13||Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods||$2,226,046,000||+186.4%|
|14||Fresh or chilled beef||$2,070,378,000||+6%|
|15||Medication mixes not in dosage||$1,929,370,000||+1106%|
|16||Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations||$1,764,903,000||+9.5%|
|19||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$1,529,224,000||+0%|
|20||Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates||$1,301,710,000||-14.5%|
|22||Processed petroleum oils||$1,200,520,000||+62.3%|
|23||Computer parts, accessories||$1,198,045,000||-4.1%|
|24||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$1,195,573,000||+43.7%|
|25||Unrecorded sound media||$1,160,347,000||+8.5%|
|27||Precious metal compounds||$1,002,258,000||+362.6%|
|29||Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream||$856,973,000||+28.4%|
|30||Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)||$817,961,000||+6.7%|
|31||Phone devices including smartphones||$783,824,000||-17.2%|
|35||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$597,870,000||+7.9%|
|38||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$555,599,000||+6.6%|
|39||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$548,439,000||-2.2%|
|42||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$466,146,000||+24%|
|44||Sheep or goat meat||$450,946,000||+2.7%|
|45||Other measuring/testing machines||$416,141,000||-3.9%|
|46||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$415,696,000||+6%|
|47||Aircraft or spacecraft parts||$384,830,000||0%|
|48||Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms||$376,141,000||+19.9%|
|49||Live horses, mules||$353,702,000||-10%|
|50||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$346,318,000||-5.8%|
|51||Oral/dental hygiene preparations||$341,851,000||+0.4%|
|53||Miscellaneous plastic items||$335,960,000||+19.9%|
|55||Other food preparations||$329,417,000||-7.8%|
|60||Ligneous fiberboard including wood||$283,291,000||+1.4%|
|61||Synthetic filament yarn||$282,062,000||+2417%|
|62||Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream||$265,064,000||+32.7%|
|64||Zinc ores, concentrates||$255,826,000||+6.4%|
|65||Electrical converters/power units||$253,559,000||-19%|
|66||Vulcanized rubber items||$250,241,000||+58.5%|
|67||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$242,938,000||+0.3%|
|68||Interchangeable hand/machine tools||$242,356,000||+22.6%|
|69||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$240,344,000||-12%|
|72||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$224,170,000||-8%|
|74||Iron or steel scrap||$214,125,000||+0.4%|
|75||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$202,572,000||+27.1%|
|76||Red meat offal||$199,048,000||-2.3%|
|80||Concrete/artificial stone items||$182,140,000||+7.1%|
|81||Liquid pumps and elevators||$180,167,000||+2.7%|
|82||Dried organs, heparin||$179,329,000||+39.1%|
|85||Whole fish (frozen)||$176,604,000||-12.1%|
|86||Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)||$175,511,000||+9.5%|
|87||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$170,577,000||-1.4%|
|88||Live bovine cattle||$170,155,000||+18.5%|
|89||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$167,252,000||+33.8%|
|90||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$162,941,000||-27.1%|
|91||Miscellaneous engines, motors||$160,558,000||+13.4%|
|93||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$157,284,000||+2.9%|
|94||Protein substances, peptones||$151,438,000||+23.2%|
|95||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$148,842,000||-18.4%|
|96||Plastic builders' items||$147,842,000||-9.6%|
|97||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$146,162,000||+15.7%|
|98||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$144,341,000||-6%|
|99||Fruit and vegetable juices||$138,514,000||-2.5%|
|100||Stoppers, caps, lids||$138,209,000||-7.4%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$199.7 billion or 93.3% by value for all products exported from Ireland during 2022.
In macroeconomic terms, Ireland’s total exported goods represent 32.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($666.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 32.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 33.9% in 2021. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Ireland’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Ireland’s unemployment rate averaged 4.73% for 2022, down from an average 6.25% for 2021 according to the International Monetary Fund.
Ireland’s capital city is Dublin.
See also Ireland’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Ireland’s Top 10 Imports and Ireland’s Top Trading Partners
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Forbes 2018 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 23, 2023
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Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on March 23, 2023
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Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 23, 2023