Brexit's impact on trade is laid bare in new Central Statistics Office (CSO) data, which shows a surge in imports to Ireland of goods from Europe and a sharp fall in goods bought from Britain.
The change comes as Irish companies open up new supply chains to avoid tariffs and delivery delays on goods from the UK.
CSO monthly goods trade data for March shows a 46 per cent spike to more than €3.1 billion in goods imported from the EU, compared to March 2020 when trade still took place under the old regime. New “third-country” trade arrangements for the UK kicked in when the Brexit transition period ended at the beginning of this year.
The data show a corresponding slump in British imports to the Republic, which fell by almost a third to less than €1 billion.
The biggest impact was seen in imports of the food sector, with British imports over the first three months of the year down 60 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2020.
The impact may be somewhat exaggerated by higher than normal food imports from the UK in March 2020 as supermarkets struggled to keep up with panic buying at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.
While Irish companies are clearly buying far fewer British goods since Brexit kicked in, the impact on Irish exports to Britain is not nearly as pronounced.
Irish exports to Britain fell only about 3 per cent in March compared to the same month a year ago, reaching about €3 billion.
Overall, unadjusted exports from the State fell 17 per cent year-on-year in March. Once again the figures are skewed by the onset of the pandemic last March when the State exported huge amounts of pharmaceuticals and chemicals as other countries stockpiled goods when the outbreak began.
When adjusted for seasonal factors, Irish good exports in March were up 1 per cent on the previous month to just over €13.2 billion. Adjusted imports were up 6 per cent to more than €7.7 billion, while the State’s trade surplus fell 7 per cent to €5.5 billion when compared with February.
About 30 per cent of all the State’s exports in March went to the US, 39 per cent to other EU countries, with Germany accounting for the biggest slice, followed by the Netherlands and Belgium. Britain accounted for about 8 per cent of Irish exports over the month.