Farm Ireland

Saturday 18 August 2018

Six of the top 15 EU goods most exposed to Britain are Irish agri-food products

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Padraic Halpin

Eleven of the 15 European Union goods most exposed to Britain are Irish exports, an analysis by the Department of Finance showed on Wednesday, highlighting the extreme vulnerability to Brexit of some Irish firms.

The United Kingdom accounts for around 17pc of Irish exports, but that figure leaps to 44pc when foreign-owned firms are excluded, with employment-heavy industries in rural areas among the most reliant on trade across the Irish Sea.

Products of Ireland’s agri-food sector are among the EU’s most exposed to Brexit, the research showed, led by cereals, fruit and vegetables, almost 90pc of which are exported to the UK.

High volume Irish industries such as meat, dairy products, the live animal trade and wood manufacturing are also among the most exposed.

Top 15 Proportionally Most Exposed Products to the UK by Country

  1. Ireland:Cereals and cereal preparations
  2. Ireland:Vegetables and fruits
  3. Ireland:Non metallic mineral manufactures, n.e.s
  4. Cyprus:Gold, non-monetary
  5. Ireland:Live animals
  6. Ireland:Feedstuff for animals (excluding unmilled cereals)
  7. Malta:Road vehicles
  8. Ireland:Cork and wood manufactures
  9. Ireland:Coffee, tea, cocoa, spices
  10. Ireland:Road vehicles
  11. Ireland:Petroleum, petroleum products
  12. Cyprus:Road vehicles
  13. Ireland:Meat and meat preparations
  14. Malta:Manufactures of metal
  15. Ireland:Dairy products and birds' eggs

Cyprus and Malta are the only other two EU member states whose goods feature in the top 15.

The research also found that although Irish trade has become far less reliant on its nearest neighbor since the early 1970's, when the UK accounted for over 50pc of total exports, some big sectors have increased their share of exports.

The proportion of food and live animal exports to the UK increased to 46pc in 2015 from 38pc in 2000, while exports in manufactured goods rose to 55pc of the sectors’ total exports from 43pc over the same period.

Irish agri-food would face some of the highest tariffs if the EU-registered World Trade Organization tariff schedule was applied to EU-UK trade should Britain leave under a so-called “Hard Brexit” in 2019, the report noted.

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Agri-food and traditional manufacturing also face an additional vulnerability due to the UK’s reliance on the two sectors, the report added, as outside the EU, Britain would have an incentive to seek trade agreements with third countries on better terms in areas in which it is not self-sufficient.


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