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PUBLISHED: 
5 Jul 2023

Irish Maritime Transport Economist 2022, Volume 20

The IMDO has released its 20th edition of the Irish Maritime Transport Economist (IMTE), reporting on the performance of the maritime industry in Ireland in 2022.
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The IMDO has released its 20th edition of the Irish Maritime Transport Economist (IMTE), reporting on the performance of the maritime industry in Ireland in 2022.

Through the IMDO’s iShip index (an aggregate measure of port volumes), the IMTE shows that Irish port throughput declined by 1% in 2022. The forces driving changes in port traffic in 2022 can be better understood under three headings; the Russian invasion of Ukraine, inflation, and persistent post-Brexit patterns.

The effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Irish ports was that imports of coal, petroleum and fertilisers from Russia were greatly reduced in 2022. This was as a result of embargos place d on such goods at EU level. In addition, Irish imports of grain products and animal feeds grew significantly, driven by concerns over future shortages and further price rises.

The effects of inflation can be seen in the latter half of the year. Inflation for goods only, which excludes services and is a more relevant metric for ports,ran at a higher level than ‘all items’. Goods inflation averaged 12% in 2022, its highest rate for decades, and this put downward pressure on port traffic, particularly the RoRo and LoLo sectors.

Lastly, post-Brexit traffic patterns have persisted into the second year of the post-Brexit trading environment. The demand for direct services to mainland European ports, which surged in 2021, was evident again in 2022. ROI – EU RoRo traffic remains double its pre-Brexit volume, and continues to represent 1 in 3 RoRo units in the Republic of Ireland. The LoLo market, the majority of which serves mainland European ports, retained much of its post-Brexit gains despite the inflationary headwinds.

Overall, 2022 was another year of significant uncertainty and changing trade patterns in the market for global seaborne trade. It is a remarkable achievement by our ports and shipping operators that despite the challenges in recent times, the Irish economy has maintained uninterrupted access to international markets. Our ports once again exhibited extraordinary resilience in 2022 and we commend their efforts.

2022 also marks the 20th anniversary of IMTE publication. Over the course of 20 editions, the IMTE has built up an invaluable time series that tracks Irish port throughput over time. This information feeds directly into national policy and its value was proven during the challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit in recent years.

Commenting on the analysis provided in the IMTE, Jack Chambers, Minister of State at the Department of Transport and at the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications said: “By assessing port volumes, we better understand Ireland’s trading relationship with the rest of the world. As 90% of Ireland’s internationally traded goods by volume are transported by sea, we also emphasise the role that our port infrastructure plays in facilitating economic growth.”

Liam Lacey, Director of the IMDO, reflected on the response of Irish ports to challenges faced in 2022: “In all, Irish ports proved capable of adapting to the combined effect of increasing import volumes and changing trading patterns, and I commend their efforts in facilitating Irish international trade throughout another turbulent period.”

You can find the full Irish Maritime Transport Economist report here.