Country in the spotlight: Ireland

Ireland has a booming economy. Even in the corona year 2020, economic growth was recorded. Groupage in the country is one of Transuniverse’s specialities. In fact, its traffic is growing at a faster rate than that of the Irish economy.


Transuniverse took over the Herentals based GC-Trans at the end of 2018, and owner and Ireland specialist Denis Glorie joined the team in Wondelgem. His contribution has created opportunities for Transuniverse. “In 2018 we had three departures a week to Ireland. Today, there are as many as 16 westbound departures a week. Imports from Ireland have increased from one departure every fortnight in 2018 to about three full truckloads of groupage and part loads a week,” says Denis.


Last year, despite the health crisis, Transuniverse volumes to and from Ireland increased again. This is due to the dynamics of the Irish economy, efficient service from a reputable Irish partner, the commercial focus, the flexibility of the Irish desk in Wondelgem and Denis’s specific market knowledge. This has not escaped the notice of many partners and agents: we offer them a ‘eurohub service’, whereby we can route shipments from, say, Poland or Italy via Wondelgem to Ireland and vice versa.


“Transuniverse has relationships with just about every shipping company that sails to Ireland. We ship not only via Dublin, but also via Belfast and Cork, with both shipper’s owned and liner’s owned equipment. This allows us to offer a very wide range of trailers, containers, reefers, curtainside containers, flatbeds for outsize cargo and so on,” explains Denis.


The growth continues. In the first quarter of 2021, exports rose by as much as a third. This is partly a consequence of Brexit: Irish companies are buying more from other EU countries, now that imports from the UK are subject to customs and the rules are constantly being tightened. In addition, cargoes bound for Northern Ireland that previously passed through the land bridge now pass through the port of Belfast. This is because, despite Brexit, Northern Ireland is still part of the EU in customs terms.


“Due to this sharp increase in traffic, there are signs of overheating in the logistics market both here and on the ‘Emerald Isle’,” Denis notes.


From poor to rich

For a long time, Ireland was the poorest country in Western Europe, which resulted in several waves of emigration: between 1850 and 1950, the Irish population dropped from seven million to less than three million. After WWII, the country – which had remained neutral during the war – recovered. Ireland joined the European Union in 1973 (still the European Economic Community at that time). Ireland then went through a period of very high economic growth (up to 9.9% per year on average). The country emerged as the ‘Celtic Tiger’. In 2006, it actually became the second richest country (per capita) in the EU (after Luxembourg).


In the 1990s, the Irish economy changed from an agricultural economy to a dynamic export economy of high-tech products and services. Numerous American IT and tech companies, such as Apple, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter and many others, have their European headquarters there. The pharmaceutical industry has also flourished there, with Pfizer and GSK, among others.


Today, services represent 49% of GDP, industry 46% and agriculture barely 5%. The secret of the Irish economy, apart from the low taxes for foreign companies, is the advantageous pay pacts (a type of collective agreement) and the quality of Irish education.


Impressive recovery

After the banking crisis of 2007/2008, Ireland went through a deep recession, but in 2014 the economy rebounded strongly. Since then, annual growth has hovered around 8%. In the corona year 2020, Ireland was in fact the only country in the European Union that was able to present a growth rate. This was as high as 3%. This trend seems to be continuing this year. Nevertheless, at 3.4% and 3.5% respectively, growth prospects for 2021 and 2022 remain below the European average. Brexit and the hiccups in trade flows with the UK are responsible for this.


Exports dominate

Ireland exports much more (USD 170 billion in 2019) than it imports (USD 101 billion). It exports mainly to the US (31.8%), the UK (10.3%) … and Belgium (10.2%). Imports come mainly from the UK (22.5%), the US (15.5%) and France (13.6%).


Ireland in a nutshell

  • Capital city: Dublin (527,600 inhabitants)
  • Major cities: Cork (119,230 inhabitants) and Galway (75,529 inhabitants)
  • Surface area: 70,282 km² (= 2.3 x Belgium)
  • Number of inhabitants: 4.92 million
  • Head of state: President Michael D. Higgins
  • Premier: Micheál Martin
  • Languages: English (working language) and Gaelic
  • Currency: Euro
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP): USD 399 billion (Belgium USD 533 billion)
  • GDP/capita: 80,779 USD (Belgium: USD 46,414)




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