Value of Irish trade with UK falls amid Brexit uncertainty

Latest trade numbers show value of exports to Britain falls by 8 per cent since start of year

Latest trade numbers from the  CSO show exports to Britain fell by €508 million to €5.5 billion between January and May this year. Photograph: Alan Betson

Latest trade numbers from the CSO show exports to Britain fell by €508 million to €5.5 billion between January and May this year. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The value of Irish exports of goods to Britain has fallen by 8 per cent this year while imports are down 6 per cent, raising concerns that Brexit might already be negatively impacting trade between the Republic and its nearest neighbour.

The latest trade numbers from the Central Statistics Office show exports to Britain fell by €508 million to €5.5 billion between January and May this year.

The figures also show exports to Britain decreased by €134 million or 10 per cent to €1.1 billion in May alone. This was largely due to a decrease in exports of chemicals and related products with a smaller decrease in exports of machinery and transport equipment.

Imports from Britain also decreased by €97 million (6 per cent ) to €1.5 billion in May but were up in the five-month period to May.

The State’s trade with the UK has so far been largely unaffected by Brexit with exports and imports remaining steady.

Uncertainty

However, continued uncertainty about the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU has raised questions over the structure of our future trading relationships.

Overall, the latest trade numbers show the value of Irish exports rose by 5 per cent to €11.6 billion in May while imports declined by 5 per cent to €6.4 billion.

This resulted in a trade surplus for the month of just over €5.2 billion, up 20 per cent or €867 million on the previous month.

While the monthly trade numbers can be volatile, the underlying trend remains positive with the value of exports for the first five months of 2018 put at €56 billion, up 7 per cent on the corresponding period last year.

The main drivers of the monthly figures were exports of medical and pharmaceutical products, which rose by €1.5 billion (54 per cent) to €4.4 billion in June. In contrast, exports of organic chemicals decreased by €239 million (12 per cent) to €1.8 billion.