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British exports to Ireland are down 13% in the first quarter

British merchandise exports to Ireland decreased by 13% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, and official estimates from the Office for National Statistics also show that imports from Ireland decreased by 4%, according to the BBC.

Trade across the Irish Sea has become more difficult since the end of the Brexit period, and goods arriving on the island of Ireland from Great Britain face a host of new controls and checks.

Goods going from Ireland to Britain also require customs data, with checks and other controls slated to be implemented in phases later this year, and trade is also likely to be affected by the pandemic, with many retail and hospitality businesses unable to operate at full capacity.

The end of 2020 also saw companies stockpile of products that likely contributed to a drop in trade in January and February.

Office for National Statistics figures show that in the first quarter of 2021, British merchandise exports to Ireland were worth 4.5 billion pounds compared to 5.1 billion pounds during the same period in 2020.

During the month of March, exports and imports from the UK to Ireland increased compared to February. Earlier this week, a senior Irish customs official told a parliamentary committee that some difficulties in transporting British goods through Irish ports had eased.

Jerry Harhill, Director General of Customs, said that after suffering from "deteriorating performance", Ireland's new Customs IT system has been operating well since mid-March.