Irish freight volumes to EU ports doubled in first month of Brexit

A trailer truck drives away from a Stena Line ship parked at Cherbourg Harbour, France

Irish freight volumes to and from European Union ports doubled in January, the government said on Monday, as many traders shunned the once-speedier route to the continent through Britain due to Brexit red tape and delays.

For decades, the so-called UK landbridge offered exporters the swiftest route between Ireland and mainland Europe. The UK’s exit from the EU at the end of 2020 has led to a three-fold rise in direct routes in the last 12 months, mainly to French ports.

Volumes were down 50% on routes between Ireland and Britain last month, the government said. That includes the large amount of direct goods trade between the neighbouring countries.

The large drop was due to a number of factors including pre-Brexit stockpiling, COVID-19 restrictions and the new Brexit checks, the government said, adding that volumes were gradually increasing and up 11% week-on-week in the final week of January.

“While many are successfully continuing to trade with Britain, some businesses, large and small, are having difficulty, in some cases severe difficulty, adapting to the new system of controls,” the government said.

Most of the new direct routes to the continent were launched to and from the southeastern Irish port of Rosslare and in a separate statement, it said its European freight traffic rose 446% year-on-year in January.

Similar to the wider drop, Rosslare’s UK traffic was down 49% last month.

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