UK/EU trade down, says Ireland’s Economic and Social Research Institute

Trade from the UK to the EU is down 16% compared to if Brexit had not happened, research has found.

Queues on the A20 in Kent earlier this year as motorists faced major delays at the port of Dover due to heightened French security checks (PA)
  • Ireland has had a large reduction in imports from the UK.
  • But exports from Ireland to the UK have not decreased ‘because of increased trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland’

Trade from the EU to the UK is down even further – 20%, according to Ireland’s Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

It used the growth rates recorded by other EU trading partners around the world since the start of 2021 to estimate what UK export and import figures with the EU would be if Brexit hadn’t happened.

It assumed UK trade would have grown at the same rate as its former international trade partners in the EU.

At the start of 2021 Brexit trading restrictions came into operation after the transition period ended.

The ESRI said the goods trade between the EU and UK increased following a sharp fall in the early months of 2021.

Trade has recovered to most of its pre-2021 level in value terms but remains significantly below what it might otherwise have been if it enjoyed the same growth rate as its former EU trade partners, ESRI said.

The ESRI noted that global exports of goods from the UK have been growing slowly – a trend it said may have been partially the result of “Brexit spill-over” effects on supply chains.

It said the impact of Brexit on EU-UK trade, therefore, does not appear as large if compared to UK trade with the rest of the world as it does when compared to the faster-growing performance of EU trade.

ESRI used a combined set of UK and EU data sources in its research.

The institute looked at UK trade with individual member states.

It found Brexit led to a significant decline in trade with the UK in almost all cases, by varying magnitudes.

It said for most countries across the EU the size of the impact was broadly similar for both export and imports.

Trucks at Dublin port (Niall Carson/PA)

Ireland stands out as having had a particularly large reduction in imports from the UK relative to its other international trade patterns.

But exports from Ireland to the UK continue to perform in line with those of other markets, with no notable impact to date of Brexit on the total levels traded.

The ESRI said the increased trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland may account for this.

The research does not examine variation across product types and acknowledges that some may have seen exports to the UK decline.

It also did not examine trade in services.