Ireland's official trade surplus grows marginally in 2012

Ireland's trade balance showed a 0.2-percent increase in a surplus in 2012 to 42.98 billion euros ($57.98 billion), as exports continued to drive the economy, official data showed on Wednesday.

A trade surplus is one of the main factors of growth in an economy and Ireland, which is fighting to break out of a bailout programme, is counting heavily on exports to help it emerge from its debt crisis

Exports for the year increased by 0.9 percent to 92.009 billion euros from 91.228 billion euros in 2011, the Central Statistics Office said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the value of imports grew 1.5 percent 49.024 billion euros in 2012, from 48.315 billion euros in 2011.

New figures for December show exports fell 15 percent to 6.840 billion euros from 8.072 billion euros in November, the CSO added.

The value of imports in the last month of 2012 grew one percent to 3.800 billion euros from 3.722 billion euros in November.

December's trade surplus was the second lowest for the year on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The United States accounted for 20 percent of all of Ireland's exports, with Britain and Belgium accounting for 15 percent.

Britain, Ireland's closest neighbour, was the leading source of imports with 31 percent of Irish imports coming from Britain in 2012.

Exports continue to drive the Irish economic recovery, after Dublin received an 85-billion-euro EU/IMF rescue package in November 2010.