Brexit to hurt €19bn worth of UK im­ports to Ire­land

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - EOIN BURKE-KENNEDY

The im­pact of Brexit on the Ir­ish econ­omy is likely to be more keenly felt on the im­port side with new fig­ures show­ing the UK was Repub­lic’s big­gest im­port mar­ket in 2017.

The fig­ures, pub­lished by the Cen­tral Sta­tis­tics Of­fice (CSO), show the UK ac­counted for 24 per cent or €19 bil­lion worth of food, fuel and other mer­chan­dise im­ported into the State last year. This was nearly €3 bil­lion more than the value of Ir­ish ex­ports to the UK.

Im­ports of food and bev­er­ages from the UK was the big­gest cat­e­gory, ac­count­ing for €4 bil­lion of the to­tal, while im­ports of ma­chin­ery and trans­port equip­ment came to €3.2 bil­lion. Im­ports of petroleum prod­ucts from the UK were worth €2.7 bil­lion, while im­ports of med­i­cal and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts were €3.1 bil­lion.

A dis­or­derly or no-deal Brexit with the im­po­si­tion of World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion tar­iffs raises the prospect of sharp in­creases in costs for Ir­ish im­porters.

The fig­ures con­firm the find­ings of an ear­lier Depart­ment of Fi­nance re­port, which pin­pointed Ire­land as a “sub­stan­tial out­lier” among EU states in terms of its ex­po­sure on im­ports to Brexit. The re­port was com­mis­sioned last year as part of the Gov­ern­ment’s Brexit con­tin­gency plan­ning.

The lat­est CSO fig­ures show Ire­land ex­ported €123 bil­lion of goods in 2017, and im­ported €79 bil­lion. The US re­mains the State’s big­gest ex­port mar­ket, ac­count­ing for 27 per cent or €33 bil­lion of the to­tal. Med­i­cal

€16bn The value of Ir­ish ex­ports to the UK

and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts and or­ganic chem­i­cals com­prised €20.5 bil­lion, or 62 per cent of the State’s to­tal ex­ports to the US in 2017.

The UK mar­ket was the State’s sec­ond-largest ex­port mar­ket and big­gest EU ex­port mar­ket, ac­count­ing for 12 per cent or €16 bil­lion of the to­tal.

The fig­ures also re­vealed the ex­tent of the food and drink sec­tor’s ex­po­sure to Brexit. The State ex­ported €12 bil­lion of food and drink in 2017, of which €4.6 bil­lion went to the UK.

Over­all the Repub­lic’s food and drink ex­ports in­cluded 229,000 tons of cheese, 210,000 tons of but­ter, 165,000 tons of in­fant for­mula, 436 mil­lion litres of beer and 30 mil­lion litres of whiskey.

Food and drink

The fig­ures also re­vealed Ire­land im­ported €7.7 bil­lion of food and drink in 2017, which in­cluded €3.7 bil­lion from the UK. Ire­land’s im­ports in­cluded 72,000 tons of pota­toes, 21,000 tons of cof­fee, 280 mil­lion litres of sug­ared non-al­co­holic drinks, 70 mil­lion litres of min­eral wa­ter and 83 mil­lion litres of wine.

The fig­ures show the Repub­lic’s big­gest trad­ing sur­plus in 2017 was with the US, where the value of ex­ports was more than twice the value of im­ports, giv­ing a trad­ing sur­plus of al­most €17 bil­lion. In con­trast, the Repub­lic ran trad­ing deficit with the UK, im­port­ing nearly €3 bil­lion more worth of goods than it ex­ported.

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