WASHINGTON: The effect of Brexit on some types of exports and imports may be showing up in reduced traffic through Irish ports. Figures from the Irish Maritime Development Office which monitors traffic through ports show that a sharp drop in so-called dry bulk traffic dropped 10% in the fourth quarter of last year from a year earlier, as coal and trade in animal feeds fell sharply.
The period coincided with the sharp fall in the value of sterling against the euro amid heightened uncertainty over the UK’s plans following its June decision to quit the EU. The sharp weakness of sterling can affect the huge amounts of both exports and imports passing through ports and can be particularly disruptive to large shipments such as agri-food and fuels. Overall, the Maritime Office figures which cover ports in the Republic and the North, show port activity in the Republic fell 2% in the quarter — mainly because of the drop in bulk traffic. Other signs of the Brexit currency effect may be found in the 4% annual drop in liquid bulk traffic at ports in the Republic. In the North, ports recorded growth of 6% in total bulk traffic in the same period. Continuing economic growth here and in Britain may be reflected in the fact that roll-on and lift-on traffic between the Republic and Britain both posted annual gains in the quarter. “Together with lo-lo [containerised trade], these categories provide a good reflection as to the performance of trade between the two economies,” said the Maritime Office.