Belfast Telegraph

Ireland's exports to the UK dip below 10%

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Getty Images
Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Getty Images

By David Chance

Data from the Republic's Central Statistics Office for July showed that goods exports from the south to Great Britain and Northern Ireland combined dipped below 10% of the total for the first time ever.

The fastest growing and most significant export market is not, as might have been expected, the Republic's partners in the EU. Instead, the US accounted for fully one third of Irish goods exports in July.

Great Britain accounted for 8.4% of goods exports in July and Northern Ireland 1.4%, a figure that has shrunk from 11.2% and 1.4% respectively in 2016, the year of the Brexit referendum.

However, the figure for Northern Ireland has remained relatively steady at between 1.4 and 1.7% on an annual basis.

The shrinking importance of the UK to exporters in the Republic has coincided with a 55% surge in exports overall from Ireland from €90.9bn (£79.4bn) in 2010 to a total of €140.7bn (£122.9bn) in 2018. It is not that the UK has stagnated, it is just that export growth there has been a tepid 15% over the same period.

However, other markets have grown dramatically, with the Canada-Mexico-United States grouping in the North American Free Trade Area seeing its share rise to 30% of exports by the end of last year, up from a quarter in 2010.

As part of the new proposals from Prime Minister Boris Johnson (inset) put to the European Union, the trading relationship with the EU is to undergo a radical, immediate change in which a shared customs territory and close regulatory alignment is replaced with a Free Trade Agreement in which the UK takes control of its own regulatory affairs and trade policy.

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According to economic analysis by the UK in a Changing Europe think-tank, the Brexit proposal by Johnson could reduce UK GDP per capita 10 years after Brexit by between 2.3% and 7%.

That is more than the loss under Theresa May's withdrawal agreement, which was minus 1.9% to minus 5.5%.

It is not just Ireland that is finding a less dynamic UK economy that is weighed down by Brexit uncertainties a less attractive export market. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, the UK now ranked seventh among Germany's most important trading partners in the January-July 2019 period. That is down one place from the 2018 ranking and compares with 5th place in 2015. In July, Germany's exports to Austria were almost equal to its exports to the UK, according to ING's Germany economist, Carsten Brzeski.

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