The trade surplus narrowed significantly in October, according to preliminary figures from the Central Statistics Office, as exports fell and imports increased.

Irish firms exported more than €7.5bn worth of goods during the month - which was down 2% (€192m) on the figure for September.

At the same time, imports to Ireland rose to almost €4.56bn - up more than 1% (€50m) on the previous month.

This led to an 8% (€242m) narrowing in the country’s trade surplus, with ended October at €2.9bn.

On an annual basis the value of exports was up, however, growing by 4% (€263m) from October 2013.

Imports to the country were also higher over the year, however, up 5% (€228m).

This left Ireland’s trade surplus slightly higher in October than it was at the same time last year.

According to the CSO, the year-on-year rise in exports was driven mainly by a €110m (23%) increase in essential oil exports.

Organic chemicals and medical and pharmaceutical exports were up by 2%.

The European Union was the main destination for Irish exports during October, accounting for 59% of outgoing trade, while the United States had a 20% share.

On the import side, the year-on-year rise was driven by machinery and transport equipment, up 18% (€187m) since October 2013.

The majority of imports to Ireland - 59% - came from the EU, with Britain being the biggest component of that share.

The US provided for 12% of the country’s import demand, while China made up a further 8%.