Freight traffic between Great Britain and Ireland has severely declined since the UK came out of the customs union in January this year.
According to new figures published by the boss of an Irish Sea freight ferry service, freight volumes between January and July for routes that connect Great Britain with Ireland and Northern Ireland are down four per cent compared to last year.
And whilst Alaistair Eagles, CEO of Seatruck Ferries, noted that ports in the Republic of Ireland have seen freight volumes from Great Britain fall significantly, he also saw an almost double increase for the routes that connect Ireland with the EU – from 10 to 18 per cent.
What the figures show
Figures from the first six months of this year revealed freight volumes for GB ports serving Ireland and Northern Ireland were down by up to 67 per cent in Fishguard, with another severe drop of 33 per cent in Holyhead and a 14 per cent decline in Pembroke.
Meanwhile, Liverpool saw a four per cent increase, and Heysham and Cairnryan each saw increases between 16 and 17 per cent – insignificant compared to the spectacular decline seen by the Welsh ports.
When it comes to Ireland and Northern Ireland ports serving Great Britain, Rosslare saw a 32 per cent decline and Dublin’s freight volumes dropped by 19 per cent.
Seamus McKeegan, managing director at haulage firm McKeegan International Limited, suggested this week that Northern Ireland is benefitting from Brexit.
In a tweet, he said Northern Ireland now has an advantage over Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland by “having unfettered access” to both the EU and Great Britain markets.
And there are signs that direct freight between Ireland and the EU will continue to grow, with Rosslare port seeing a 370 per cent increase and a new freight ferry to France being introduced last week, according to Trans.INFO.
Increase in demand between Ireland and France
According to Brittany Ferries, there has been a “significant increase in demand” for direct freight links between Ireland and France, with a 76 per cent rise in weekly freight compared to the first eight months of the year.
Meanwhile, almost half of UK businesses that traded with the EU before Brexit are trading less or have completely stopped trading with the bloc since Britain’s exit from the customs union in January.
In the latest blow to the British economy, 16 per cent of UK businesses took the decision to partially or entirely move their EU operations inside the single market post-Brexit, according to an Institute of Directors survey.
The data emerged as UK-EU trade significantly declined at the beginning of the year because of additional bureaucracy caused by Brexit, and EU imports to the UK are far behind December 2020 levels.