The trade surplus grew significantly in May when compared to the same month of 2014, according to preliminary figures from the Central Statistics Office, as exports rose and imports fell.

The value of exports from Ireland stood at almost €9.02 billion in May, up €848m (10.4%) on the figure recorded in May 2014.

Meanwhile the value of imports came in at more than €5.04 billion – down €93m (1.8%) annually.

This brought the trade surplus to €3.97 billion in May – a €941m (31%) increase on the same figure a year earlier.

The CSO has cautioned that the figures have been impacted by a revision, which has seen some products – particularly those relating to trade in aircraft - re-valued as part of its calculations.

According to the CSO the main driver of export growth during the month was in the medical and pharmaceutical products sector – which saw growth of €542m year-on-year.

The same sector also saw a rise in import value during the period, up €64m (17%) to €444m.

While the trade surplus grew on an annual basis, the figure narrowed month-on-month, with exports falling and imports rising between April and May.

Exports were down €437m (5%) in May compared to the previous month, according to the CSO, while imports rose by €190m (4%). This brought the trade surplus down €627m (14%) to €3.97bn.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton has welcomed the figures: "Over 100,000 extra jobs have been created since we launched the Action Plan for Jobs in early 2012, with the export sectors accounting for almost half of this growth.

"This continued positive trend in export figures is very welcome, with goods exports in the first five months of the year up 18% on the same period last year. With strong implementation of our plan, I am convinced we can continue to see progress until we achieve sustainable full employment in the coming years," he added.