St Patrick's day trade mission

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EEF­_Economists are an international bunch and today we are celebrating St Patrick’s day. Before we head off for a pint of the black stuff and a plate of soda bread, here are five manufacturing-related facts about the UK’s relationship with Ireland.

It’s a surplus

  • Ireland is one of the few EU countries with which the UK has a surplus on trade in goods. In 2014, the surplus stood at £6.5bn and for manufactured goods the UK exported over £4bn more than we imported from Ireland. The trade surplus on manufactures has been steadily rising over the past five years.

A dressing down?

  • The top ten categories of manufactured exports accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total in 2014. The catch all ‘miscellaneous items not elsewhere specified’ grouping (which includes toys, jewellery and other consumer goods) accounted for £1.2bn of UK exports to Ireland last year, followed by apparel and clothing accessories (£827m) and vehicles (£783m).
  • Road vehicle exports have seen some significant growth, rising by almost half since 2010. Other big movers include power generation equipment (up 66%) and chemicals (up a third).


The drugs are working

  • The UK’s biggest import from Ireland by value is pharmaceutical products. These imports amounted to almost £1.5bn in 2014 or a fifth of all manufactured imports.

What about BRICs

  • The UK exports about £200m worth of construction materials. But of more interest has been the value of UK exports to Ireland compared with sales to emerging markets.
  • Looking just at manufacturers, the UK exported about twice as much to Brazil, Russia, India and China collectively than to Ireland in 2014. Looking just at UK exports to China these overtook sales to Ireland in 2014 for the first time (£11.03bn to China v £10.98bn to Ireland).

In it together

  • Our trading relationship with Ireland remains significant for both countries. And Ireland has also been clear that the UK’s continued membership of the European Union is important to them. There should not be barriers erected that impact on the ease with which we can trade, do business with each other, or on the movement of skills and talent between our two nations. Manufacturers on both sides of the Irish Sea would raise a small glass to that.


Chief Economist

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