Metro Mayors look to increase trade with Ireland

Trade between the Liverpool city region and Ireland is currently worth £430m a year and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram is keen to increase trade post-Brexit. Tony McDonough reports

Seatruck Progress
Seatruck Progress heads out of the Mersey bound for Dublin. Picture by HowardLiverpool


Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has met with senior Irish politicians in a bid to grow trade with the Irish Republic post-Brexit.

Britain will leave the European Union on December 31, with or without a deal, and Ireland will remain part of the EU. Trade between the city region and Ireland is currently worth £430m a year and politicians on both sides are keen to protect and grow that figure.

Mr Rotheram, and his Greater Manchester counterpart, Andy Burnham, have met with Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, also responsible for trade, and Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, to discuss future cooperation. 

Companies in the city region sell £313m of goods and services to Ireland each year with £117m coming the other way. 664 city region businesses export to Ireland and 401 city region businesses import from Ireland. The overall figure for the North West is £2bn.

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Each day vessels travel to and from the Republic from the Port of Liverpool. Seatruck’s Liverpool to Dublin freight service operates two or three each-way sailings on most days. Larger container and cargo vessels also operate between the two ports.

The meeting came as Mr Coveney, Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that a new Consulate General for the North of England will open next year. The Consulate General will cover the North West, the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

All parties reiterated their ambition to build further trade and investment links between the Liverpool city region, Greater Manchester and Ireland, and discussed opportunities to deepen cooperation in areas including sport, culture, and technological innovation.

Mr Rotheram said: “The historical, cultural and trade links between the Liverpool city region and Ireland are deep and long-standing, and we are determined to build on them as we enter a post-Brexit world.

“As a western-facing port our city region is of crucial strategic importance to the UK’s future trade policy. There is no better demonstration of this than today’s commitment to forge even deeper ties with our nearest neighbours.

“This important task force will ensure meaningful dialogue on how together we can shape the post-Brexit world and maximise our shared economic and cultural opportunities.”

Metro Mayors
North West Metro Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram


Mr Varadkar added: “Ireland has a long-standing relationship with the UK and we are committed to maintaining that relationship over the months and years ahead. The historic, business and cultural links between Ireland, Manchester and Liverpool are really strong and go back decades.

“We are committed to strengthening these existing ties and building new partnerships, in areas such as infrastructure, housing, clean energy and transport, healthcare and manufacturing. Our meeting concluded with agreement that we would keep in touch at both political and official level throughout 2021 as we continue to address the challenges posed by Brexit and COVID-19.

“The proposed new Consulate General for the North of England will play an important role in this regard, working closely with Enterprise Ireland’s office in Manchester which was opened in 2019 to help Irish companies seek opportunities and partnerships across the north of England.”

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