Cross-border Irish trade continues to grow as MPs continue to mull controversial NI Protocol Bill

Tue 19 Jul 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Northern Ireland ROI Trade

New figures from Dublin’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that cross-border trade between Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) continues to grow post-Brexit.

NI imports to ROI increased by 23% to €1.9bn between January and May 2022, compared to the same period in 2021.

Two-way traffic

Trade in the other direction increased by 42% to €1.9bn, reports the Guardian.

Imports from Great Britain (GB) to ROI also increased from €5.2bn in January to May 2021 to €9.3bn in January to May 2022, according to Irish News.

The latest figures suggest exporters in Britain have become accustomed to new systems, which initially led to some post-Brexit disruption.

Medical goods lead way

Ciaran Counihan, statistician in the international trade in goods division at CSO, told the Times that increases in goods exports were driven mainly by medical and pharmaceutical products.

Higher imports from GB were spurred by increases in the imports of mineral fuels, chemicals and related products, partly due to the war in Ukraine.

“It should be noted that the large growth rate in imports from GB is partly explained by the relatively low level of imports in May 2021,” he said.

Protocol effect looms

Despite the encouraging trade figures, experts are concerned about the potential fallout over the UK Government’s NI Protocol Bill, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Manufacturing NI chief Stephen Kelly said that the Bill still had the capacity to hurt local manufacturers as confidence has “drained away” in Northern Ireland’s trading ability.

Senior economist Dr Esmond Birnie has also warned that, despite appearances of an improving economy, the Protocol was acting as a “wrong way round industrial policy”.

While some manufacturers in food processing appeared to have thrived, Birnie said other sectors like engineering were struggling.

New leader

MPs will continue to go through the detail of the Bill in the Commons, reports Politico, with a Committee of the whole House considering it today and tomorrow.

According to parliament, “A Committee of the whole House is sometimes used instead of a Public Bill Committee for some or all of a Bill's committee stage in the Commons. It takes place in the main chamber and allows all MPs to take part in the debate and to vote on the Bill's contents.”

'Madness’

The author of a draft EU law that would enable the bloc to retaliate to a suspension of the Protocol by Britain, told the BBC that it “would be madness” if a trade war were to occur.

Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly warned that the UK faced “serious consequences” if it goes ahead with the Protocol Bill.

He said he would not be drawn on what the EU’s tools of response might be, but said all options were being looked at.