The Economic and Social Research Institute has released a report indicating that the all-Ireland economy has experienced significant growth since Brexit. The report, co-authored by Professor Martina Lawless, utilizes data from 2021 to demonstrate the substantial levels of integrated trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This trade flow is believed to provide substantial economic benefits for companies that are unable to access markets further afield.
The report reveals that, excluding trade with Britain across the Irish Sea, Northern Ireland imported €2.6 billion worth of goods from the Republic of Ireland and exported €5.6 billion worth of goods to the Republic. For the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland constitutes almost 5% of total goods imports and just over 2% of exports. These figures are significant given the relatively smaller size of the Northern Irish economy compared to other top trading partners.
The trade statistics also indicate similarities in certain sectors, particularly chemicals and pharmaceuticals, which feature prominently in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The analysis further highlights that the food and beverages sector accounts for a larger proportion of cross-border trade than it does in the overall trade structure. Approximately 24% of goods from Ireland to Northern Ireland and 27% of goods from Northern Ireland to Ireland fall within this sector.
The research was partially funded by business group Ibec, whose director, Fergal O’Brien, emphasized the increasing awareness among businesses of the growing opportunities in the all-island economy. This recognition of the potential benefits of integrated trade is likely to drive further collaboration and economic growth between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
In conclusion, the Economic and Social Research Institute’s report highlights the substantial expansion of the all-Ireland economy since Brexit. The integrated trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has proven to be economically advantageous, particularly for businesses unable to access markets further afield. The similarities in trade sectors and the significant share of cross-border trade in the food and beverages sector further demonstrate the strength of the economic relationship between the two regions. With increasing awareness of the opportunities in the all-island economy, it is expected that this trend of growth and collaboration will continue in the future.