New preliminary figures from the Central Statistics Office show that seasonally adjusted exports rose by 17% to €10.299 billion in October compared to the previous month.

The figures also show that seasonally adjusted imports increased by 10% to €5.871 billion.

This resulted in an increase of €990m, or 29%, in the seasonally adjusted trade surplus to €4.428 billion in October - the highest positive trade balance since August 2012. 

The surplus has only broken the €4 billion level four times ever according to the CSO, with two of them happening this year.  

The CSO said that in October exports of organic chemicals soared by 108% to €2.858 billion, while exports of medical and pharmaceutical products rose by 29% to €2.563 billion.

Exports of electrical machinery and appliances and parts were also 36% higher at €282m.

Today's figures show that the EU accounted for 49% of the total good exports in October, while the US was the main non-US destination as it accounted for 26% of total exports.

Meanwhile, imports of road vehicles rose by 47% in October compared to the same time last year, while imports of medical and pharmaceutical products grew by 32%.

Imports of other transport equipment, including aircraft, rose by 15%, today's figures also show.

The EU accounted for 64% of the value of goods imports during the month, with 25% of total exports coming from the UK. The US and China were the main non-EU sources of imports for the country.

Commenting on today's figures, Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said that the country's trade performance in the past 18 months or so has benefitted from competitiveness gains made against our main partners and by the weakening of the euro, particularly against sterling and the dollar. 

He noted that last year saw very strong growth in Irish exports, and it looks like 2015 will see another robust performance. 

"But imports are also rising significantly, outpacing that of exports in five of the last seven quarters, according to the latest National Accounts data. This in turn reflects to some degree the pick-up in consumer confidence and increased personal consumption," Mr McQuaid said.