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Key Irish export sectors now more dependent on UK than 10 years ago

Some Irish exporting sectors have seen their dependence on the UK market increase since the turn of the millennium, even though the exports share overall to the UK has been declining.

A new paper from the Department of Finance shows the extent to which some sectors are vulnerable to Brexit.

The importance of the UK to Ireland as a destination market for exports has declined over the last 40 years. In the early 1970s, the UK accounted for more than 50pc of total Irish exports, whereas in 2015, the figure was just 17pc, the paper notes.

But that trend is reversed for certain sectors.

For example, the paper states that Ireland’s exports to the UK in food and live animals has increased from 38pc of the sector’s total exports in 2000 to 46pc in 2015.

Manufactured goods exports have jumped from 43pc in 2000 to 55pc in 2015.

“The figures thus reveal that although at the aggregate level there is a long-term trend decline in the UK export share, certain sectors still have a high exposure to the UK and for some, this has increased over the past 15 years,” the paper states.

Commodities and minerals exports have also seen their share of exports into the UK increase over that period. However, the proportional exposure of the chemicals sector has fallen over time. As has machinery, beverages and tobacco and agricultural residuals.

The paper also states that 11 of the EU 27’s top 15 most exposed products to the UK, on the proportional exposure measure, are Irish exports.

Included in the top five are the Irish agri-food sub sectors, cereals, vegetables and fruit, and live anmimal products.

“These sectors would face some of the highest tariffs if the EU registered WTO tariff schedule was applied to EU-UK trade,” the paper states. “These findings have implications for the prospects of these sectors in the context of future trade negotiations between the EU and their vulnerability to post-exit UK trade policy.”

It also states that Britain’s intention to pursue new trade deals could have “substantial negative consequences for these most exposed sectors in the Irish economy as it would be a significant step change in the trading relationship that has developed since EU membership.”

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