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EU needs reminded of its reliance on Ireland

The Tories, Fine Gael, the DUP and the EU had simple tasks to perform in relation to Ireland in the context of Brexit: secure trade between Britain and the Free State, trade between the Free State and the Six Counties, trade between the Six Counties and Britain and the axiomatic matter of the absence of a hard border.

The fact that the aforementioned aspects have not been agreed upon is an indictment of all those involved.

The Free State accounts for 33% of Six County goods exports, 40% of Six County services exports and 36% of total exports. The Six Counties account for 1.7% of Free State exports.

The total trade between the jurisdictions in Ireland amounts to €3.40279bn/£2.47761bn a year. The trade from north to south is €1.83032bn/£1.336bn per annum and the trade from south to north €1.57247bn/£1.14161bn yearly. The Free State is the fifth-biggest customer for Britain's exports.

Britain is the second biggest customer for Free State exports.

Some 13.8% of exports from the Free State go to Britain and the Six Counties. According to the Office for National Statistics, 5.0% of Britain's exports of goods and services go to the Free State.

The Central Statistics Office stated that the Free State exports €33.6bn - €15.6bn in goods and €18bn in services - to Britain and Britain exports €29.4bn - €18bn in goods and €11.4bn in services - to the Free State.

The Central Statistics Office also stated that €89bn of foreign direct investment in Britain comes from the Free State, and €37bn of foreign direct investment in the Free State comes from Britain.

If the EU thinks it can use Ireland to punish Britain, there should be unfriendly reminders that the Free State does not need the EU - in fact, it would be much better off without it - but that the EU needs the Free State as a net contributor and a source of fish.

As Damien Tiernan recalled in Souls of the Sea, the value of the amount of fish taken from Irish seas by Spain, France, Portugal and the Netherlands exceeds the combined total of EU grants to the Free State.

eamonn macgrianna

Belfast

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