The trade of goods between the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland has “grown substantially” since Brexit, with the food and beverages sector accounting for a “considerably larger” share of cross-border trade.

That is according to a new report published today (Tuesday, July 4). by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) .

The report, which is based on 2021 data, highlights that the Republic of Ireland is now the destination for more than 50% of Northern Ireland’s exports.

Northern Ireland reported a total of €7.6 billion in goods imported and €10.5 billion in goods exported in 2021. This excludes sales to Great Britain, which are not included as international trade.

Of these flows, approximately 35% of imports (€2.6 billion) came from ROI and 53% (€5.6 billion) of exports went to ROI.

Ireland has considerably higher overall total goods imports and exports, at €99.8 billion and €160.3 billion respectively in 2021.

Most overall imports and exports for both Northern Ireland and ROI came from the chemicals and pharmaceuticals sector, along with the machinery and electrical equipment sector.

The shares of other sectors are more broadly dispersed, but the ERSI stated that the relatively high share of food in Northern Ireland’s export structure is “noteworthy”, with over 5% of total exports accounted for by meat and fish and 7% by the dairy sector.

Trading of food and beverages between Northern Ireland and ROI is “much more concentrated” in relation to the overall pattern of trading elsewhere.

The ERSI data shows 24% of goods in the food and beverage sector went from the Republic to Northern Ireland, and 27% of goods went from the north to the Republic.

One of the report’s authors, Martina Lawless, said that: “Both ROI and Northern Ireland have policy priorities of developing international markets and supporting domestic firms to export.

“Cross-border trade can play a role as an accessible first step into broader exporting and this new data on trade patterns may help in the development of such policies.”