Ireland's trade with Northern Ireland grew rapidly in 2021 with imports up 65% and exports to the British-run region 54% higher, helping to offset a 13% fall in imports from Britain during the first year of Brexit checks, data showed on Tuesday.
While trade from Britain improved as 2021 progressed after imports were 32% lower in the first half, overall imports jumped by 18% to a record €102 billion ($116 billion), including a €1.6 billion uplift from Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland remains in the EU trading orbit under the politically divisive Northern Ireland protocol to Britain's EU exit treaty.
The protocol aimed to preserve the sensitive open border with Ireland but effectively created a border in the Irish Sea, angering pro-British unionists.
Irish exports to Northern Ireland surged to €3.7 billion, suggesting firms north of the border were sidestepping new checks on goods from the rest of the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland by bringing in more goods from Ireland.
Rise In Imports
Unionist politicians have consistently pointed to the rise in imports from Ireland as a sign the new checks have hampered Northern Ireland's trade with the rest of the UK.
The unionist leader of Northern Ireland's power-sharing regional government resigned earlier this month in protest at the protocol, which Britain and the EU are trying to rework to ease the burden on trade.
The value of Ireland's imports from the UK excluding Northern Ireland fell to €15.4 billion from €17.7 billion, representing 15% of the value of total imports last year compared to 21% in 2020.
Exports to Britain, which has postponed checks on goods from the Republic of Ireland until talks over the protocol are concluded, rose by 17% year-on-year in 2021. Overall exports increased by 2%.