Britain’s exit from the European Union has been a major boost to Northern Ireland’s trade, according to figures from the Irish Maritime Development Office. Accordingly, the movement of goods with Great Britain increased by 17 percent in the first three quarters of 2021 compared to the same period of the previous year. Compared to 2019, that is, before the onset of the epidemic, trade with the United Kingdom increased by 9%.
In contrast, trade between EU member Ireland and Great Britain collapsed significantly during the same period. The losers are the Irish ports of Dublin and Rossler, through which trade with Great Britain continued until Brexit. Northern Ireland ports have taken their place: At Warren Point on the inland Irish border, container traffic increased 46 per cent in the third quarter compared to the same period a year earlier.
This indicates that many goods traded between Ireland and the UK are now shipped through Northern Ireland. Foreign trade expert Mark Linfield of the federally owned GTAI noted that controls between Northern Ireland and Great Britain agreed in the Brexit deal remain partially on hold. But: “It turns out that Northern Ireland is developing a new and clearly important role in the trade between Great Britain and Ireland,” Linfield said.
Accordingly, Manufacturing NI is committed to preserving the Northern Ireland protocol agreed with the EU, which the British government wants to renegotiate. Association President Stephen Kelly said the protocol ensures continued access to both the EU and UK for businesses. 80% of companies are pragmatic. “They want the protocol to work, they see opportunities and they want to move forward,” Kelly told Irish broadcaster RTÉ. The part that has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic is much better than the rest of the kingdom: In the third quarter, economic strength was just 0.3 percent lower than its pre-pandemic level — the London economic hub fared much worse.
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The so-called Northern Ireland Protocol guarantees de facto a customs border within Britain in the Irish Sea, and is thus a thorn in the side for supporters of London and Northern Ireland for union with Great Britain. The initial delivery problems that led to empty supermarket shelves have now been offset by a huge increase in trade with Ireland. Exports to the EU country increased by 63 percent in the first ten months of the year compared to the same period in the previous year, while imports rose by 46 percent.
The situation is different in Irish trade with Great Britain – imports fell by 21 percent. In contrast, the exchange of goods between Ireland and other EU countries is booming. In the port of Rossler, the volume of trade in the European Union increased by 378 percent. In addition, the demand for direct ship communications with the European Union increased in order to avoid the traditional route through Great Britain, which now had a lot of bureaucracy to deal with. While there were only about a dozen direct contacts between Ireland and the EU mainland last year, there are now 44, according to Irish media.
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