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First quarter shipping volumes show decline

NEW figures on first quarter shipping volumes have revealed further evidence that the country's faltering export industry is in trouble as British demand for Irish food declines.

The Irish Maritime Development Office said yesterday that the volume of shipping and port traffic through Ireland declined in the first quarter.

Economists are paying more attention to shipping volumes in most countries as complex financial transactions distort official export and import figures. Ireland's trade figures are particularly prone to distortion thanks to the multinational sector and transfer pricing, which exaggerates the value of goods leaving these shores.

Irish Continental Group (ICG) said earlier this month that demand from commercial customers fell in the first half of the ferry operator's financial year. Figures from operators such as ICG reflect the health of domestic exporters which tend to export in bulk. Many multinationals export small quantities of high value products.

The maritime development office said that Lift-on/Lift-off trade fell 1pc in the first quarter while Roll-on/Roll-off declined 3pc. Most Roll-on/Roll-off freight from Ireland goes to Britain, which is currently mired in recession.

"This decline in traffic is clearly reflected in the continued uncertainly in the UK," the Irish Maritime Development Office said yesterday.

Irish Independent