Imports from North rise as Brexit rules bite

Exports to Britain rise 21% to almost €9.2bn

The increase in North-South trade has been evident in the trade figures in recent months. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

The increase in North-South trade has been evident in the trade figures in recent months. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

 

Trade across the Border with Northern Ireland continues to surge even as Brexit rules see imports from Britain fall, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). But Irish exporters are finding a way to get their goods to Britain, with goods trade in that direction jumping more than 20 per cent in the first eight months of the year.

The increase in North-South trade has been evident in the trade figures in recent months. Under the Northern Ireland protocol, trade in goods with Britain is subject to customs checks. However, while Northern Ireland remains within the customs territory of the UK, it is simultaneously within the EU single market for the movement of goods.

Some British-based traders have apparently established bases in the North to facilitate trade with the Republic, while some companies in the Republic have replaced imports from Britain with imports from the North.

Although the value of goods exported from the Republic to Britain in the first eight months of 2021 rose 21 per cent to almost €9.2 billion, imports slumped 30 per cent, or €3.1 billion, to €7.3 billion compared with the same period in 2020.

Challenges

Among the reasons for the change are the challenges of complying with customs requirements in a post-Brexit environment.

Imports from Northern Ireland to the Republic, meanwhile, rose 61 per cent over the same period to €2.5 billion, while exports were 47 per cent higher at €2.2 billion.

New data from the CSO showed Ireland’s total seasonally adjusted goods trade exports increased by more than €660 million in August, an increase of 5 per cent over July’s figures, to a total €13.9 billion.

Imports also rose, gaining 2 per cent, or €161 million, to stand at €8.2 billion for the month. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus rose 10 per cent during the month to €5.66 billion.

Exports of electrical machinery, appliances and parts increased by 39 per cent to just over €1 billion in August, while exports of professional, scientific and controlling apparatus increased by 35 per cent to €574 million.

The export of food and live animals increased by 14 per cent to a total of €993 million in August.

Machinery

On the opposite side of the scale, organic chemicals were down 19 per cent to €1.9 billion.

Ireland also imported more electrical machinery, appliances and parts, and petroleum than in August 2020.

The EU was the largest export market in August for Irish goods, with 37 per cent – almost €4.9 billion – of the total exports going to the region. Germany accounted for €1.6 billion of that, with €1 billion going to Belgium.

However, total EU exports in August 2021 fell by €307 million, or 6 per cent, year on year. The main non-EU destination for Irish goods was the US, which accounted for 32 per cent of exports.

Ireland continued to import goods from the EU, although figures were down 8 per cent year on year to €2 billion. The UK accounted for 18 per cent of imports, on a par with the US at 17 per cent.