Some of Ireland’s exports may become unviable due to the Brexit effect on the UK landbridge to the continental EU, said Transport Minister Shane Ross last week.
The €21bin trade includes food shipments. He said the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) has recommended that Ireland’s access to the landbridge is protected in EU-UK negotiations. Export sectors at risk are mainly those trading in time-sensitive goods, such as agri-food and seafood.
In the Dáil, Mr Ross said he has assessed the maritime capacity for direct sailings to continental EU ports as an alternative to the landbridge.
“I recognise that the longer journey time on these direct routes may not offer a viable alternative and some trade will continue to use the landbridge or, in the event of significant delays, may become unviable,” he said.
He said he has advised the Government that sufficient capacity be available on direct routes to continental ports from the end of March and that if demand for further capacity arises, the shipping sector can respond quickly.
The IMDO has estimated the annual volume of roll on/roll off traffic using the landbridge to the continent at about three million tonnes, or 150,000 heavy goods vehicles. The total value of trade with the EU using the landbridge is estimated at €21bn.
Mr Ross was answering a Dáil question from Longford-Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy.