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Brexit's impact on Dublin Port is 'clear' as cargo volumes decline

Trade with European ports, meanwhile, has increased by 36% in the first nine months of the year.

Image: Sam Boal

BREXIT HAS BEEN cited as the main reason for a drop-off in the volume of cargo moving through Dublin Port through the first nine months of the year.

Although the number of containers and trailers travelling through the port was down just 0.5% in the period, overall cargo volumes — measured in gross tonnes — fell by 3.3% in the nine months to the end of September compared with the same period last year.

A 5.4% decline was observed in the third quarter of the year alone.

The drop is mainly due to a steep 21% decline in trade with ports in Great Britain in the first nine months of the year, according to the Dublin Port Company in a statement.

Trade with European ports, meanwhile, has increased by 36% this year as businesses increasingly look to bypass the UK landbridge to Europe by trading with the continent directly.

The switch means that trade with Great Britain now accounts for just over half of the units moving through Dublin Port. Before Brexit, that figure was closer to two-thirds.

“After nine months, the impact of Brexit on the profile of Dublin Port’s trade has become clear,” said Dublin Port Company chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly in a statement.

“The movement of Irish trade to EU markets and away from the UK has also had the effect of reducing the number of trailers that move through Dublin Port which are driver-accompanied.”

It means that “nearly 60,000 loads which would have been driver-accompanied before Brexit were shipped as unaccompanied trailers”, which is “bad news from a port capacity perspective” he said. 

Meanwhile, the difference in “trade patterns” between the European Union and the United Kingdom is “creating capacity pinch points” in parts of the port, O’Reilly added.

“We currently have two shipping lines looking to commence services in Dublin which cannot be accommodated,” he said.

“To remove these capacity pinch points, we need to continue our capital investment programme to increase port capacity in the short-term.”

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This, O’Reilly said, will include moving the four remaining empty freight container depots in the port to the new Dublin Inland Port, which is due to open next month.

The inland port — located 14km away from Dublin Port itself — is one of three major infrastructural projects the company is undertaking as part of its 2040 ‘Masterplan’.

The aim of the plan is to double the existing port’s capacity to 77 million tonnes.

O’Reilly said, “Looking to the longer-term, we are progressing with the 3FM Project — the third and final Masterplan project required to bring Dublin Port to its ultimate capacity by 2040 — and will shortly commence public consultation before we start into detailed design and environmental impact analysis.” 

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