This week the Statistical Service Cystat published its comprehensive report on foreign trade in goods by commodity and country for 2015. Total exports soared by €293.1m, or by 20.3%, to reach €1.73bn in January-December 2015, compared with €1.44bn in the same period of 2014.
Since Cyprus is a maritime centre, it does a lot of trade in goods that are essentially parked here for a while before they head off elsewhere. Cystat therefore reports both domestically produced exports and total exports (domestic exports and re-exports).
As noted above, total exports rose by €293.1m to €1.73bn in 2015. Within this total, domestically produced exports rose by €93.3m to €822.9m. This means that around €200m of the increase came from re-exports.
To find out which re-exports did so well we need to look at the breakdown. Since Cystat does not give the breakdown for re-exports, we have to look at both the breakdown of total exports and the breakdown of domestically produced exports.
Just to make things difficult, these are reported in different ways. However, with a bit of digging, we can find two primary sources for the increase in exports in 2015.
A single aircraft
On the re-export side, the increase looks like it is down to the sale of an aircraft. Total exports of aircraft rose to €162.6m from just €1.9m in 2014. If this had been a domestically produced export, it would have turned up in exports of manufactured goods. However, as we know, Cyprus does not produce aeroplanes, so not surprisingly there is no such category in domestic exports.
Digging a bit further, we can see that the sale must have been made to Ireland, where the sale of an aircraft is recorded for €161m. Cystat says “aircraft and ships whose economic ownership has been transferred from a person established in Cyprus to a person established in another Member State are included in the statistics on dispatches” (that is, exports to other EU member states).
The Irish economy is booming again with real GDP growth of 7.8% in 2015. However, I suspect that the sale of an aircraft has more to do with where companies locate their operations for tax purposes than with Irish billionaires wanting to own a jet.
On the domestic export side, mineral fuels and oils jumped from zero in 2014 to €93.3m in 2015.
Cyprus no longer has a refinery, therefore these exports are highly likely to be oil-product exports from the new VTTV oil terminal in Vasilikos, which was inaugurated in late 2014. No other domestically produced export rose by this much in 2015.
Among the best performers, domestic exports of pharmaceuticals increased by €14m to €221.0m in 2015, while halloumi rose by €12m to €102.9m.
Pharmaceuticals and halloumi are Cyprus’ first and second largest merchandise exports respectively. With the opening of the VTTV oil terminal, therefore, mineral fuels exports immediately leapt to third place in Cyprus’ exports of goods.