By John Carney
A NEW REPORT has revealed the value of goods moving across the Irish border has continued to increase considerably in the first quarter of 2022, and the best is still to come according to a Kinawley man with a wealth of career experience in cross-border trade and exporting.
Barry Cullen is ex-President of the Irish Exporters’ Association and Head of Sales for Silver Hill Duck in Emyvale, County Monaghan, which does business both north and south of the border.
Mr Cullen said there has seen a big rise in cross-border trade overall, but particularly in agribusiness, which refers to any business related to farming and farming-related commercial activities.
“We [Silver Hill Duck products] are now supplying UK businesses that were in Northern Ireland, so our business has grown and I’m sure this is the same for others. Rather than buying in product from London or Scotland, fresh products are instead being sourced locally,” Mr Cullen said.
“It’s the only place in the world that you will be able to get products into the UK and the EU. It means agribusiness has benefited from the Northern Ireland Protocol being in place.
“In reality, businesses just get on with it when faced with problems. Yes, when the protocol was brought in more than two years ago there were headaches. But as you can see from the report’s figures, business is thriving north and south.”
Data from the Irish Central Statistics Office (CSO), said the value of goods moving from north to south increased by 34 per cent in the first quarter of 2022, or €294 million (£250m), on the same three months last year to almost 1.16 billion (£986m).
Goods moving north from the Republic rose at an even higher rate of 49 per cent in the first quarter. The €368m (£312m) increase took the first quarter total to €1.12 billion (£953m).
As supply chains adapted to further issues on the Irish Sea border due to the Northern Ireland Protocol, the value of cross-border trade has surged substantially, but more can be done according to Mr Cullen.
“Local businesses can really reap the benefits, but the danger is that we’re going to be left behind because of all this squabbling over the protocol. We have a fantastic opportunity here to make Northern Ireland a trading base for both camps,” Mr Cullen explained.
“There is a lot of talk about the protocol stopping products coming into UK retailers, such as sausages and cooked meats, but even before Brexit less than 5% of these products were coming in here anyway. It was all local brands like Denny and Cookstown sausages that were being bought.
“Tweaks may be needed, but the protocol is here to stay. Enough time has been wasted already getting the problems ironed out.”
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