EU-27 more significant trading bloc than UK – Hayes
Speaking at a breakfast event in Brussels this morning: ‘Brexit: the Irish questions’, Brian Hayes MEP made the following comments about the implications of Brexit on Ireland’s future trade:
“The UK is of course our biggest trading partner and our priority in the Brexit negotiations should be to keep that trading relationship as strong as possible. But the truth is that Ireland’s exporting success story is much bigger than Britain alone.
“In fact, the EU-27 is a much more significant trading partner to us than Britain. On average, Ireland’s exports of goods to the EU represents over 40% of our total goods exports annually. On the other hand, exports of goods to the UK represents on average just over 10% of our total annually.
“Ireland’s trade policy has come a way since we joined the EEC in 1973. Back then we were almost completely dependent on the UK and our main reason for joining the EEC was to keep our trading relationship with the UK strong. Over 40 years later, our trade policy has evolved and diversified. We’ve forged new partnerships while simultaneously reducing our dependence on the UK.
“Even in recent years, our trading relationship with other EU partners has grown more rapidly than with the UK. Between 2010 and 2015, our annual exports of goods to the UK has only increased by €500 million. Over the same period, exports to the EU-27 increased by almost €6 billion.
“Brexit does of course pose huge challenges and uncertainties for our economy. But the lesson from our more than 40 years of valued membership of the EU is that Ireland has become more adaptable to the global landscape. Being part of the Eurozone means that we are now more resilient to economic threats. Our priority must be to grow market share in the Eurozone countries – where there is no currency fluctuation.
“Yesterday annual GDP growth figures in the Eurozone came in at 1.8%. Economic Sentiment is now at a 70 month high. This is the strongest sign that the euro has defied its critics and come through the crisis on the other side.
“We need to strengthen our ties with emerging markets. Almost 50% of our exporting goes to non-EU countries, much of that to the United States. But we have huge opportunities to develop trade with China and the rest of Asia. The IDA has 3 offices in China and 8 in the Asia-Pacific region so we are well-placed to seize on new opportunities in the fastest growing region in the world.”