The December CSO figures have shown that the value of exports from Ireland increased by 2% in 2021 to a total value of €165 billion when compared with 2020. Exports of medical and pharmaceutical products accounted for 38% of all exports in 2021. In terms of geographical breakdown, 32% of exports went to the US, 37% to the EU, 9% to Britain, 2% to NI and 20% to the rest of the world.
Great Britain remains an important player in Ireland's export market and this is evidenced by the fact that exports to Great Britain in 2021 were €14,409 million, an increase of €2,100 million (+17%) compared with 2020. The main changes were increases in the exports of chemicals and related products and machinery and transport equipment, with a decrease in the exports of food and live animals. However, the previous over-reliance on the British market is no longer the case, given that exports to Great Britain accounted for 9% of overall exports from Ireland, which demonstrates that the Irish market is continually sourcing new markets for its products. The value of goods imported from Great Britain in 2021 was €15,367 million, a decrease of €2,371 million (-13%) compared with 2020.
The CSO figures for 2021 confirmed that there has been a significant increase in cross border trade on the island of Ireland in 2021 following Brexit. This is due in part to businesses adjusting their supply chains to avoid the administrative burden associated with importing goods from Britain. Trade within the island of Ireland has continued to grow in December 2021, with figures showing that imports from Northern Ireland for 2021 increased by €1,556 million (+65%) to €3,956 million when compared with 2020. Exports to Northern Ireland were €3,696 million in 2021, an increase of €1,290 million (+54%) on the same period in 2020.
It will be interesting to see if these trends continue into 2022.