With a 3.8% decline in January and it concluded its worst two-month decline since 2008, last month was not a good month for sterling.

Over the past 365 days we have seen GBP/EUR fall from a best exchange rate at 1.4415 to as low as 1.3134 – a decline of 8.89%.

Last year much of the growth in Irish Agri-Food exports was recorded in trade to the UK where a further weakening in the euro relative to sterling helped improve the competitive position of Irish exports.

According to Bord Bia, with 41% of exports going to the UK and 28% to markets that predominantly trade in US dollars, any change in exchange rates has the potential to impact on competitiveness.

The euro weakened by a further 10% relative to sterling in 2015, while a 16% decline relative to the US dollar was recorded.

In December 2015, the euro was over 12% and 8% weaker against the US dollar and sterling respectively. Bord Bia has highlighted how these developments have helped to boost the competitiveness of Irish exports.

It says the combined impact of the weakening in the euro relative to sterling and the US dollar is estimated at almost €950m.

The euro also weakened by 15% against the Chinese yuan while a marginal decline was recorded against the New Zealand dollar. In contrast, the strengthening of the euro relative to the Russian rouble and Brazilian real continued with the euro 37% and 17% higher respectively.

Bord Bia says this reflects the ongoing trading difficulties with Russia and this combined  with trade suspensions continues to have a negative impact on trade from Ireland.

Bord Bia had said the anticipated economic developments in these regions over the next 12 – 24 months suggests ongoing weakness of the euro relative to sterling and the US dollar.

It says this should help to maintain competitiveness of Irish exports, although it will also have the impact of pushing up import prices for inputs and raw materials.