This paper examines the patterns of cross-border trade on the island of Ireland, focusing on the role of supply chain links, measured by the extent of trade in intermediate products and the contribution to overall trade of two-way trading firms (those simultaneously importing and exporting). We use detailed firm-level trade records to examine the composition, specialisation and dynamism of trading firms. This data is provided by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and is based on detailed statistics on merchandise exports and imports of manufacturing firms. A number of case studies on specific firms are also included to illustrate the empirical patterns. The analysis is motivated by the key role that trade plays in overall economic performance across both parts of the island and, in the more immediate policy context of potential changes in the trading environment posed by the UK exit from the EU, by the importance of understanding and quantifying the cross-border linkages both in terms of direct trade in final products and also in firms’ supply chains.
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