New figures from the Irish Central Statistics Office (CSO) suggests trade flows between the Republic of Ireland (ROI), Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain (GB) are continuing to change significantly post-Brexit.
The value of goods imports from GB to ROI for January to November 2021 was down by 21% to €12,501m, compared with January to November 2020, the CSO found.
For November 2021, ROI imports from GB decreased by 18% compared with November 2020, with the main decreases in chemicals and related products, food and live animals and machinery and transport equipment.
New rules were introduced for exports from GB to the EU at the start of 2021 when the transition period following Brexit finished.
GB buys Irish
GB imports from ROI soared, however, rising by 20% to hit £11.2bn for the first 11 months of 2021. Sales to GB accounted for 11% of ROI’s total exports.
Full customs controls were introduced for EU goods entering GB at the start of 2022.
However, ROI exports to GB have continued to operate under the same easements that were in place for EU-to-GB imports in 2021 – including the ability for firms to defer declaration requirements for 175 days after the goods enter GB.
NI-ROI trade increases
The same figures revealed that ROI imports from NI in the first eleven months of 2021 increased by 64% to €3,679m compared with the same period in 2020.
ROI exports to NI were also up, by 48% to €3,305m in the same period in 2020.
NI has effectively remained in the EU single market under the terms of the NI Protocol meaning goods continue to move smoothly over the Irish border, as they did before Brexit.
The Belfast Telegraph reports freight traffic from Great Britain to Northern Ireland’s three ports has increased by around 20% as hauliers take advantage of Protocol rules.
John McGrane, director general of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, told the Irish Independent that the decline in ROI imports from GB was down to ROI firms finding new suppliers in Europe.
“The reality is that trade doesn’t do politics. It just finds the shortest route to market,” he said.
He added that there has been “a fair amount of rerouting of trade through Northern Ireland”.
Jarlath O’Keefe, from Grant Thornton Ireland, told City AM that the figures confirmed a significant increase in cross border trade on the island of Ireland following Brexit.
“This is due in part to businesses adjusting their supply chains to avoid the administrative burden associated with importing goods from Britain,” he said.
ROI’s major trade partners
According to the CSO, the EU is Ireland’s largest trading partner, accounting for 36% of total goods exports in November 2021.
The US accounted for 32% of total Irish exports and 15% of imports.
The UK (including Northern Ireland) accounted for 13% of exports and 20% of imports.