IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, today said the latest economic data from the CSO show that Ireland's export model was even more resilient last year than previously estimated. The group said that the significant revisions to the estimates of the value of economic output make Ireland's debt burden look somewhat less onerous.
Commenting on the latest CSO Quarterly National Accounts IBEC Chief Economist Fergal O'Brien said: "The latest CSO figures are a bit of a mixed bag, but the overriding picture is of an economy that has stabilised and is now returning to growth on the back of a very resilient export sector. GDP growth of 1.4% last year was double the provisional estimate of 0.7%, while the total value of economic output in 2011 was almost €4 billion greater than Government had estimated in last year's Budget. This has a big impact on the debt to GDP ratio. We estimate that the peak debt ratio will now be 2% to 3% lower than previously thought, before we factor in any reduction in the bank-related debt burden.
"The quarter 1 figures for 2012 were somewhat disappointing, showing a quarter-on-quarter GDP decline of 1.3%, but the seasonally adjusted quarterly data need to be treated with particular caution. Exports were still growing, but there was a significant spike in imports; this may well be reversed over the coming quarters. The imports increase may also be a precursor to stronger export activity over the remainder of the year. The annual figures show that services exports grew by 12% in Q1, which is reflective of the overall strength of the technology sector in recent times."