Republic records massive £37bn trade surplus
The Republic recorded its biggest annual trade surplus on record of €44.7bn (£37bn) last year, a 3% rise on 2010, said the Central Statistics Office.
Exports were up 4% to €93bn (£77bn) while it imported goods worth €48.2bn (£38bn).
Multinational exports were boosted by strong performances in sectors such as pharmacy.
But sectors like dairy products increased by 24% to €1.7bn (£1.4bn) and meat was up 15% to €2.8bn (£2.3bn).
Exports to the US were up 3% to €21.4bn (£17.5bn) and to Britain by 5% to €13bn (£10.8bn).
The biggest imports were fuel, medical and pharmaceutical goods. Preliminary figures for January last show a 10% hike in exports of €7.6bn (£6.5bn).
According to Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers, the latest external trade figures were much better than expected with the seasonally-adjusted surplus picking up in January to €3.8bn (£3bn) from a revised €3.5bn (£2.8bn) in December.
Irish Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said the figures follow Eurostat data showing that Ireland had the third largest trade surplus in the EU, behind Germany and the Netherlands.