The value of the shared all-island economy

Ibec and our UK counterparts, the CBI, have published a special report which highlights the value of the shared all-island economy between Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

Both organisations are partners in the Joint Business Council (JBC), established in 1993 as part of the Northern Ireland peace process. Our shared vision is a fully connected all-island market which supports greater prosperity and employment growth through increased flows of people, goods, services, energy and investment. 

The all-island economy has developed into an efficiently functioning ‘natural economic zone’,of scale which delivers significant economic benefits:

  • An all-island consumer market of 6.6 million people, which will grow by 33% to 8.8 million by 2048
  • Employment totalling 2.869 million, up 32% since the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the single all-island labour pool is greater than that of Denmark, Norway or Scotland
  • €3.2 billion (stg£2.84 billion) trade in goods only between Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • Gross consumer spending of €72.2 billion (stg£60.5 billion)
  • 110 million people border crossings annually
  • 3,600 light goods vehicles crossing the border every day

Businesses on both sides of the border call for a quick resolution to the withdrawal process, including agreement on the Northern Ireland backstop. A "no deal" outcome is unthinkable and must be avoided. Both Ibec and the CBI believe that a comprehensive customs union between the UK and the EU will help address some of the complex issues presented by the UK's withdrawal, including how to manage cross-border and east-west trade. In addition to a customs union, both groups contend that other barriers to trade, such as future regulatory divergence, should be minimised.

The report finds that both Ireland and Northern Ireland have benefited economically because of the improvements brought about by peace, stability and an invisible border for goods, services, labour and finance. Any restrictions to the free movement of people, goods or services which may be introduced post-Brexit will harm future growth prospects and deter investment, with agri-food, energy and services the most exposed sectors. 

Ibec and CBI report on a connected island pdf | 2896.3 kb