New research from ESRI shows that the Republic accounts for more than half of Northern Ireland’s exports, mainly due to Brexit.
According to the Economic and Social Research Insitutute study, Northern Ireland reported a total of €7.6 billion in goods imports and €10.5 billion in goods exports in 2021 (excluding sales to Great Britain).
About 53% of Northern Ireland’s exports went to Ireland (€5.6 billion), while about 35% of imports (€2.6 billion) come from Ireland, the study reveals.
The ESRI noted that Ireland has considerably higher overall total goods imports and exports, at €99.8 billion and €160.3 billion respectively in 2021.
Trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland has grown substantially since Brexit and the ESRI study shows that the share of Northern Ireland in Ireland’s total imports increased from 1.5% to almost 5% in the first six months after Brexit.
“The unique status of Northern Ireland with its access to both the EU and UK markets has driven this recent substantial increase in cross-border trade and has the potential to continue to feed into broader economic linkages across the island,” it added.
The food and beverages sector accounts for a considerably larger share of cross-border trade than it does in the overall trade structure of either country, the ESRI said.
Northern Ireland and, more notably, Ireland also have high concentrations of trade in the chemicals and pharmaceuticals sector.
The ESRI said it found that the 2021 levels of cross-border trade were higher than would be expected using the simple framework of distance and economic size, suggesting relatively high levels of trade integration on the island of Ireland.
It also found that the top ten partner countries for both Ireland and Northern Ireland are dominated by the UK and EU countries along with the US, China and Switzerland.