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Irish trade with North Ireland see big post-Brexit bounce

DUBLIN (AFP) – Cross-border trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland saw a huge boost in the first full year after Brexit, official Irish figures released on Tuesday showed.

The data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed imports from Northern Ireland in 2021 increased by EUR1.5 million to EUR3.9 million, a dramatic 65-per-cent rise
on 2020.

In the same period, exports from Ireland to the province increased by 54 per cent to EUR3.7 million. The rocketting trade will be seen as a direct result of post-Brexit arrangements created by the controversial Northern Ireland protocol.

The arrangement – part of the United Kingdom’s (UK) divorce deal with the European Union (EU) – retained frictionless trade on the island of Ireland by keeping Northern Ireland in the Europe’s single market and customs union, but erected an effective trade barrier in the Irish Sea.

The protocol has proved deeply unpopular with Northern Ireland’s pro-UK unionist politicians. They argued that checks on goods have negatively impacted trade between mainland Britain – comprising England, Scotland and Wales – and Northern Ireland, and driven a constitutional wedge between the province and the rest of the UK.

The CSO’s numbers showed a trade deficit of EUR9.6 million with the rest of the UK, excluding Northern Ireland, in 2021.

A truck operated by Marks and Spencer at Larne Port in Northern Ireland. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG