Belfast Telegraph

Significant increase in cross-border trade recorded during 2017

By Ellie Donnelly

Cross-border trade between the Republic and Northern Ireland increased substantially in 2017.

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Exports from the Republic to Northern Ireland increased by just under a fifth to €1.9bn (£1.7bn) during the year, according to preliminary figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Meanwhile, imports from NI to the Republic increased by 17% to just under €1.3bn (£1.15bn).

Overall, the United Kingdom remained an important trading partner for Ireland, with exports to the UK increasing by €1bn (£900m) or 8% to €14bn (£12.4bn).

The increase in exports to the UK was driven by increases in chemicals and related products of and food and live animals, which increased by 22% and 8% respectively.

Imports from the UK to Ireland also increased during the 12 months, up 10% to €17bn (£15.1bn).

The main increases in imports from the UK were of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials which grew by almost a third to €2.7bn (£2.4bn), and of chemicals and related products, which increased by just over a quarter to €2.3bn (£2bn).

However, with just over a year to go until Brexit, the future shape of the trading relationship between the UK and European Union remains unknown.

Alan McQuaid, economist with Merrion, warned yesterday that while we can only speculate as to how Brexit will impact Ireland going forwards, there is likely to be a negative impact on trade.

"The UK is the second largest single country for Ireland's goods and the largest for its services," Mr McQuaid said.

"At the same time, Ireland imports 30% of its goods from the UK.

"While the UK might only account for 16-17% of Ireland's total exports, 30% of all employment is in sectors which are heavily related to UK exports."

Businesses in Ireland have been urged to prepare for the worst, in the event that tariffs are imposed on cross-border goods.

In addition, concerns have been raised over whether Irish hauliers will have access to the UK landbridge, to transport goods from here to mainland Europe.

In a record year for Irish exports, total exports topped €122bn (£108bn) in 2017.

The 2% increase in exports contributed to a preliminary trade surplus of €45bn (£40bn) for the year, according to the CSO.

Imports also grew to record levels, up by €2.7bn (£2.4bn) or 4% to €76.8bn (£68.2bn).

Belfast Telegraph