Ireland the ideal first-step market for UK exporters

Fri 17 Mar 2017
Posted by: IOE&IT News

 Ireland flag with Shamrock


We're celebrating St Patrick's Day by taking a closer look at the UK's fifth largest export market.

Ireland imports more from the UK than any other country - the UK accounts for 30% of imports into the country.

The UK's largest export market in food and drink, and second largest market in clothing, fashion and footwear. Trade in other sectors continues to grow. Two-way trade stands at over EUR €1 billion per week.

An ideal first-step market, ranked 18th out of 190 in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business index, Ireland is a good place for UK businesses to try exporting for the first time. It is nearby and very easy to get to. As Britain and Ireland have a great deal in common, British companies will find the business landscape familiar. Our business practices are similar, as are our laws, systems of finance and our broader culture. 

Many British companies operate very successfully in Ireland and the same is true for Irish companies in the UK.

Although economic challenges remain (with added uncertainty following the UK's Brexit vote), Ireland's GDP is forecast to continue growing in the next two years. The European Commission forecasts growth of 3.4% in 2017 and 3.3% in 2018.

This follows a massive 26.3% growth in GDP in 2015 and 4.3% in 2016.


Top 10 UK export categories to Ireland:

1. Petroleum products and mechanical lubricants 

2. Miscellaneous manufactured articles

3. Gas, natural and manufactured

4. Articles of apparel and clothing accessories

5. Essential oils and perfume materials

6. Road vehicles

7. Medicinal and pharmaceutical products

8. Manufactures of metals

9. Electrical machinery, appliances and electrical parts

10. Office machines and automatic data-processing machines


The top 5 UK import categories by value to Ireland:

1. Cereals and cereal preparations

2. Dairy products and eggs

3. Meat and meat preparations

4. Beverages

5. Coffee, tea, cocoa, spices


If you would like more help and advice on the good opportunities for British companies in Ireland, take a look at our Doing Business in Ireland guide.