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More than 40 direct ferry routes now bypassing UK to deliver goods to Ireland in wake of Brexit


Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney

There are now 44 direct ferry routes from Europe to Ireland that are now bypassing UK ports in the wake of Brexit, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said.

Mr Coveney told BBC Radio Wales that this is up from “less than a dozen last year”.

This is due to the frosty trading relationship between the EU and the UK and the impact of Brexit.

Minister Coveney said that Ireland had been looking at direct routes to Europe in the wake of Brexit, as most of the goods shipped to Ireland had previously arrived via Britain.

"We knew that there would be disruption. There'd be paperwork, there'd be bureaucracy, there'd be delays, there'd be queues in trying to use the land-bridge,” he said.

"Companies have simply voted with their feet. For them certainty is what matters so that they can plan for the future," Mr Coveney said, pointing out that there has been an increase in the Irish goods sold in the UK in the past year.

Goods "coming the other way" had decreased significantly since the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, Mr Coveney added.

The minister highlighted the importance of Ireland’s trading relationship with Wales while speaking in Cardiff for the inaugural Wales-Ireland Forum and the official opening of the Irish Consulate in Cardiff.

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"Wales is our closest neighbour physically and we have a long history of co-operation, friendship, sporting competition but, most importantly, Welsh people and Irish people just get on well together," the foreign affairs minister said.

A spokesperson for the British Government told BBC Wales that the impact of the covid pandemic and restrictions across the world including in Europe has affected trade and “depressed demand, so it is too early to draw firm conclusions on the impacts of our new trading relationship with the EU”.

"The UK government will do all we can to support [Welsh ports]. We continue to help businesses get the support they need to trade effectively with Europe, including running export helplines such as the Export Support Service and webinars with experts, providing financial support to SMEs and delaying the introduction of full import controls."

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