An Irish port had the busiest day in its history this month thanks to Brexit, it has emerged.
The record day was registered on 13 November, according to Rosslare Europort’s managing director Glenn Carr, who said this became normal in Wexford this year – showing a shift in Irish trade towards Europe.
The cargo volumes from the Wexford port exploded by 55 per cent so far this year, due to direct trade with the EU, which grew by an impressive 378 per cent post-Brexit.
What the numbers say
Pre-Brexit, two Welsh ports represented most of Rosslare’s business, with only around three weekly services going to Europe – but this year Irish ports are importing less from the UK than they were before Brexit.
Meanwhile, the Irish port has seen weekly services to Europe grow tenfold and, in total, there are now 44 direct routes from Ireland’s ports to the EU, from a dozen last year.
“Typically, prior to Brexit, you were probably looking at about 120,000 freight units a year going into the port every year and in or around close to a million passengers pre-pandemic,” Carr told The Journal.
He said Brexit made him reconsider what the Rosslare port had that could make it grow post-Brexit – and he came to the conclusion that it was the geographical proximity to Europe.
“Obviously, we also saw that with the likely outcome that was emerging from Brexit, the chances were that supply chains were going to change fundamentally because the fundamental point was that Britain was exiting Europe and becoming a third [region],” he added.
Direct sailings – to Europe – are ‘more popular’
Carr said that the UK landbridge, connecting Dublin, Holyhead and Cherbourg or Le Havre in France were once the quickest and cheapest way to trade between Ireland and Europe, but Brexit red tape shifted the interest towards trading more with the EU.
He added: ‘There’s definitely been more engagement from both importers and exporters about direct sailings.
“In particular industries, 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,” he says.
“We definitely see it in the port in terms of the mix of goods that are there now — ingredients, food, dairy, pharmaceuticals.”
Seatruck Ferries noted earlier this month that ports in the Republic of Ireland have seen freight volumes from Great Britain fall significantly, and an almost double increase for the routes that connect Ireland with the EU – from 10 to 18 per cent.
According to the company’s figures from the first six months of this year, freight volumes for GB ports serving Ireland and Northern Ireland were down by up to 67 per cent in Fishguard, with another severe drop of 33 per cent in Holyhead and a 14 per cent decline in Pembroke.
When it comes to Ireland and Northern Ireland ports serving Great Britain, Rosslare saw a 32 per cent decline and Dublin’s freight volumes dropped by 19 per cent.
Related: Brexit has helped Belfast-Dublin trade – and Lord Frost isn’t happy