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Irish freight shippers are avoiding the UK

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-12-01 09:16

New routes linking Ireland with Europe steering clear of post-Brexit bottlenecks

Shipping freight containers are transported at Dublin Port in Dublin, Ireland, Sept 24, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

New roll-on roll-off ferry routes linking the Republic of Ireland to ports in other European Union nations have been a major success in recent months, according to data from the Irish Maritime Development Office.

The routes, which bypass the United Kingdom now it has left the EU, are becoming the favored way to export to mainland Europe, said the office, which is known as the IMDO.

In its latest report, it said the routes, introduced to bypass post-Brexit costs, delays, and paperwork, have seen a 50 percent increase in trade volume during the past six months.

Before the UK left the EU, most exporters in the Republic of Ireland shipped products to mainland Europe via ferries and roads across mainland Britain.

But The Guardian newspaper said the IMDO data shows the Republic of Ireland now has 32 new ferry services linking it directly to EU ports, including Zeebrugge in Belgium and Cherbourg, Dunkirk, and Le Havre in France.

Business Matters magazine said the Republic, which had 12 ferry services linked to ports in France before Brexit, will soon have 44.

At the same time, the IMDO report said, freight shipped from Dublin to the UK's Liverpool port shrank by 19 percent.

"It is clear that the new trading arrangements between Ireland and the UK have had a significant and negative effect upon (roll-on roll-off truck ferry) freight traffic between the two countries," the report said.

The new post-Brexit trading arrangements that came into force on Jan 1 call for additional customs checks and have led to long lineups at some ports, including Dover, which is the main conduit for freight shipped between the UK and the EU.

"One-third of all (roll-on roll-off truck ferry traffic) in the Republic of Ireland now operates on direct routes to ports in the European Union, up from a 16 percent share in 2019," the report noted.

Glenn Carr, general manager of Rosslare Europort, which handles most of the Republic of Ireland's freight shipped directly to EU ports, told the Dublin-based news website The Journal.ie: "We're definitely seeing where, traditionally, a lot of goods were sourced in the UK or exported to the UK; there's been a switch to Europe. We definitely see it in the port in terms of the mix of goods that are there now-ingredients, food, dairy, pharmaceuticals."

Additionally, exporters in the Republic of Ireland looking to send products to customers in the UK have swung away from the traditional Dublin-to-Liverpool route, and are now sending items via Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK but which has different rules related to the handling of freight from the EU.

The Guardian newspaper said this additional traffic now flowing through Northern Ireland is being seen by some as a "Brexit dividend "for the province's ports, with the three main hubs having seen freight traffic from the Republic that is destined for the UK rising by between 15 percent and 20 percent.

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