Ireland - A view from the other side

I has the pleasure of visiting Dublin last week with a delegation from the International Trade Forum in Sheffield. Not everybody realises what an important marketplace it is for British goods and services.

Ireland imports more goods from Britain than the rest of Europe combined, according to the British Irish Chamber of Commerce. This close trading relationship is not surprising considering the trading advantages UK companies have; they share a timezone, have close sea and air links, use the same language and have similar regulatory frameworks.

A well planned market visit to the Republic of Ireland can expand your knowledge and contacts. It allows you to meet potential customers while researching the market. It is important to have clear objectives for any visit you plan. When researching a market, it is important to investigate:

  • Potential competitors' pricing

  • Consumer behaviour

  • Opportunities for promoting your products or services

Visiting an exhibition can be a good place to start, as I did, but most importantly you need to get yourselves over there, meet the people, explore the market. You won't regret it.

Ireland is one of the UK's largest trading partners. This ONS gives some key statistics on UK-Ireland trade.

  • In 2018, UK exports to Ireland were worth £35.1 billion; imports from Ireland were £21.6 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of £13.5 billion with Ireland.

  • The UK had a surplus with Ireland in both goods and services. 

  • Ireland accounted for 5.5% of UK exports and 3.2% of all UK imports. 

  • Ireland was the UK’s 5th largest export market and the 10th largest source of imports.

  • The UK has recorded a trade surplus with Ireland every year between 1999 and 2018.

Ireland is of course a member of the EU and for companies thinking of setting up a base in the EU after the UK's departure then Ireland is the place to do it.

The Irish people are genuinely sad to see us go but as Ireland remains within the EU and the UK departs, then trade between the UK and Ireland will be subject to Customs Declarations. This applies whether it is a Norway Model, a Canada + model, a WTO model or an FTA.

To explain how this will affect Irish companies, once the transition period is over and customs paperwork will be needed, export declarations in Ireland will increase from 1.6 million to 20 million, a 13 times increase. Transits will increase from 40,000 to 4 million a hundred fold increase. This is a massive increase in bureaucracy which in reality nobody is prepared for.

Trade between the United Kingdom and Ireland will continue and hopefully grow, we are two markets that are intertwined in many ways and there remain many opportunities on both sides. The Common Travel Area (CTA) will continue so making travel between the two markets very easy.

What I do find interesting is that some companies consider the Republic of Ireland an export market and some an adjunct to their home market in the U.K. Whichever way you look at it if you are interested in more information about trade between the UK and Ireland then call me on

+44(0) 330 055 5858 or email


The University Business Centre,

25-27 Horton Street,


HX1 1QE,

United Kingdom

Tel:   +44 (0)330 055 5858

Mob: +44 (0)782 587 0336



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