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Britain-Northern Ireland trade grew in 2021 despite Brexit checks

Britain-Northern Ireland trade grew in 2021 despite Brexit checks
By Reuters
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DUBLIN - The value of goods and services moving to Northern Ireland from Britain posted annual growth of 7% in 2021 to reach a record 14.4 billion pounds ($17.9 billion), in the first year of operation of post-Brexit checks, data showed on Wednesday.

Under the Northern Ireland protocol, the British-run region effectively remained in the European Union's single market for goods, given its open border with EU member country Ireland, as the rest of the United Kingdom departed last year.

Britain and the EU are currently in negotiations to try to ease checks introduced under the deal that meant more than 10,000 firms had to complete 1 million customs declarations to move goods to Northern Ireland from elsewhere in the UK in 2021.

While business groups have said the changes have added costs and delays for members, Wednesday's figures showed the value of purchases from the rest of the UK exceeded the previous pre-pandemic peak of 13.9 billion pounds recorded in 2018.

The value of goods alone moving to Northern Ireland from Britain also hit a fresh peak of 12.3 billion pounds last year, up from the previous high of 11.4 billion pounds in 2014, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) data showed.

The annual trade values are measured in current rather than constant prices, meaning they are not adjusted for inflation.

The data showed the value of goods and services purchased locally by companies in Northern Ireland rose by 11% to 26.5 billion pounds, while purchases from Ireland increased to 3.1 billion pounds from 2.5 billion pounds in 2020.

Sales by Northern Irish firms to the rest of the UK and the rest of the world also hit a fresh high.

The 12.8 billion pounds worth of sales to Britain, which are not subject to checks, remained 10% below a 2016 peak while sales to Ireland reached a record 5.2 billion pounds, up 24% year on year.

($1 = 0.8065 pounds)

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