DUBLIN — Northern Ireland’s economy is growing faster than Britain’s, according to new regional analysis.
The Office of National Statistics found that Northern Ireland’s gross domestic product rose by 1.4% in the July-September quarter of 2021, compared to gains of 0.9% and 0.6% in Scotland and England, respectively. Economic activity in Wales fell by 0.3% in the same quarter.
London’s globally connected economy masked a wider English malaise. While the capital recorded growth of 2.3%, only two of England’s other eight regions made gains. The North East, including Newcastle and Sunderland, fared the worst, with a 1.2% drop.
The analysis – based mainly on quarterly VAT returns on sales of goods and services from 1.9million businesses – provided no judgment on why Northern Ireland’s economy, normally lagging behind, overtakes other parts of the UK this year.
Another recent UK economic analysis explicitly attributed Northern Ireland’s continued access to barrier-free trade with the EU27 as a key driver.
This picture is reinforced by monthly reports from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, which has documented a string of record trade figures between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland since the January 2021 launch of post-Brexit trade rules.
These rules include a trade protocol between the UK and the EU that keeps Northern Ireland within the EU’s single market for goods. While unionist leaders in the region oppose the protocol because it requires EU customs and health checks on British goods arriving in Northern Ireland, this arrangement also allows Northern Irish businesses to avoid this bureaucracy when ‘they trade with their Irish neighbors and the wider EU of 27 countries.
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