Dáil Éireann - Volume 498 - 16 December, 1998

Ceisteanna — Questions. - North-South Trade.

5. Mr. Broughan asked the Taoiseach the levels of trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic for each of the years from 1993 to date; the percentage this represents of the overall trade of both parts of Ireland. [26107/98]

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. S. Brennan): Table 1 contains Ireland's imports from Northern Ireland, [1168] Ireland's total imports and the imports of Northern Ireland as a percentage of total imports for the years 1993-7 and the seven month period January to July 1998. Table 2 contains the corresponding information for exports. It is not possible to show Northern Ireland's trade with the Republic as a percentage of Northern Ireland's overall trade because its trade is not distinguished from other United Kingdom trade.

It should be noted that overall, approximately 3 per cent of trade is unclassified by country. The unclassified trade consists mainly of intra-EU estimates.

The tables show that in 1997, the last full year, imports from Northern Ireland amounted to £744 million, representing 2.9 per cent of total imports of almost £26 billion. Exports to Northern Ireland in the same year amounted to just over £1 billion or 3 per cent of total exports of £35 billion.

Table 1 : Imports from Northern Ireland

Year

Imports from Northern Ireland

Total Imports

£m

£m

%

1993

417.2

14,884.7

2.8%

1994

536.8

17,283.4

3.1%

1995

651.2

20,619.1

3.2%

1996

642.4

22,429.4

2.9%

1997

744.5

25,879.7

2.9%

478.0

18,052.9

2.6%

January-July 1998

Table 2 : Exports to Northern Ireland

Year

Exports to Northern Northern

Total Exports

£m

£m

%

1993

701.0

19,829.7

3.5%

1994

721.9

22,753.4

3.2%

1995

785.3

27,824.7

2.8%

1996

822.6

30,407.0

2.7%

1997

1,061.4

35,154.9

3.0%

January-July 1998

703.7

25,761.2

2.7%

Mr. Broughan: I thank the Minister for providing the information so promptly. Is it possible to get precise figures from our colleagues in the UK in relation to Northern Ireland's trade with the Republic? It seems the DTI and other Departments keep such statistics on a regional basis. We have been amazed over the years, and historically it is understandable, at the tiny volumes of trade between both parts of Ireland, amounting to 3 per cent of GDP. Does the Minister see a special role for the proposed new North/South body in relation to more strongly developing economic links between both parts of the island, particularly in light——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister is only responsible for the statistics. He is not responsible for the policies which give rise to them.

Mr. S. Brennan: It is worth pursuing with the UK authorities to see if they can show Northern Ireland's trade with the Republic as a percentage of Northern Ireland's overall trade. Currently this is not distinguished by the UK authorities. The Ceann Comhairle is correct on the second matter, although I hope the new peace arrangements will increase trade on the island.