Ireland trade hits new record despite Brexit challenges

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Imports and exports to and from the Republic of Ireland reached record levels in 2021 despite the impact of Brexit and Covid, a new report reveals.


The Republic of Ireland reported a new record for international trade last year, despite headwinds created by Brexit, Covid and geopolitical tensions, the country's government has revealed.

Its Trade and Investment Report for 2021 reported a total trade value of €840 billion ($851.6 billion) for the previous 12 months, with this being led by a particularly strong demand for exports, which accounted for €451 billion of the total, including goods and services.

The EU and the US remained the Republic's largest trading partners, with almost a third of goods exported heading to the US. Germany was the next-largest destination, at 10.7 per cent, with Belgium, France and the Netherlands also in the top ten.

Despite tensions with the UK over Brexit, the UK remained the third-largest destination for Irish exports, at 8.7 per cent.

The most commonly exported goods were medical and pharmaceutical equipment, followed by organic chemicals. Together, these categories accounted for more than half of the country's exports by value.

Robert Troy, minister for trade promotion, said these figures demonstrate the resilience of the Irish economy in the face of significant challenges.

"Our ability to avoid a recession in the wake of the pandemic was driven largely by our ability to attract investment and trade goods and services internationally," he stated.

However, he also warned against complacency, noting that 2022 has presented an even more difficult environment, with supply chain issues, rising energy costs and climate change all presenting challenges to the Republic’s trade.

Elsewhere, separate figures from the country's Central Statistics Office revealed that cross-border trade with Northern Ireland has remained strong in the first half of 2022, despite the Northern Ireland Protocol coming into force. 

It showed imports from the north to the Republic increased by €357 million between January and May 2022 compared with the same period 12 months earlier. Increases in the imports of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials and chemicals and related products were the main drivers of this.