Irish food exports to Britain have fallen by a quarter following Brexit, according to a new study.
Research by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the Department of Finance attempts to estimate the impact of Brexit on trade between the Republic and Britain independent of other factors such as the pandemic.
He revealed that food exports had fallen by 24% between 2015, the year before the UK’s referendum on EU membership, and the first eight months of 2021, while drinks exports had fallen by 41%.
Overall, the study found that Brexit had a much bigger impact on imports of goods from Britain.
He revealed that Britain’s share of total exports to Ireland fell from 23% in 2015, the year before the UK’s referendum on EU membership, to 7.2 % at the beginning of 2021.
The share of Irish exports destined for Great Britain also fell, but to a lesser extent (from 10.9% to 6.3%).
However, the report notes that ‘certain individual sectors’ have faced substantial reductions in their exports to Britain, with the food and drink sectors particularly hard hit.
He noted that the estimated direct impact of Brexit is highly skewed, significantly reducing UK imports to Ireland, but with no statistically significant impact on exports.
This is likely due to the gradual implementation of customs procedures by the UK, with a series of checks to be introduced in 2022.
The biggest declines in imports were in food, machinery and equipment, with companies citing difficulties in complying with customs requirements as the cause.
Marks and Spencer (M&S) said last week that post-Brexit rules and “excessive red tape” had forced it to cut around 800 lines from its stores in the Republic, or around 20% of its total product range here.
The ESRI/Department of Finance report indicates that there has been a drop in imports from Britain; this was “slightly offset” by an increase in imports from Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s share of total Irish imports fell from 1.5% in 2015 to 5% as a result of Brexit, he said.
The key sectors driving this change were food and beverages. “This shift in supply means that the share of Irish imports from the UK from Northern Ireland has increased from 6% to over 40%,” he said.
Report co-author Martina Lawless said: “Although many supply chain challenges have come together since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the main driver of reduced Irish imports from of Great Britain can be attributed to a Brexit effect.
“There has been a lesser impact on exporters so far and continued good news from the postponement of customs checks on goods from Ireland to Britain which were due to be introduced in January,” a- she added.
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