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Irish economy disengages from Britain

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 18th, 2021 at 08:16:58 PM EST

Annualised GDP growth per Quarter

Despite Brexit and the Pandemic, the Irish economy is predicted to record the highest growth rate in the world in 2020 thanks to a heavy concentration of pharma and medtech companies in the economy. Current projections for 2021 and 2022 are for continued growth in the 3-4% range. Gross GDP figures are, of course, hugely inflated by the activities of global corporations in the economy, but these % growth rates are on a like for like basis.

2020 exports grew to €161 Billion (+5%) driven mainly by pharma exports of €62 Billion (+25%). Ireland is a global hub for pharma and medtech, playing host to 24 of the top 25 biggest players, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Novartis and AbbVie.

Despite this overall growth, the value of exports to Britain in 2020 fell by 9% to €12.4 million and accounted for only 8 per cent of total Irish exports, down from 11% in 2019. When Ireland joined the EU 1973, the UK accounted for 70% of total Irish exports, and this figure has been in steady decline ever since.

Overall imports, on the other hand, fell to €85 Billion (-6%) with the decline driven mainly by transport equipment including aircraft (-41%) and petroleum (-40%). Imports from Britain decreased by 5 per cent, and accounted for 21% of total Irish imports in 2020, down from 24% in 2019.

Thus despite a booming economy, trade with Britain declined from 11% to 8% of total exports, and from 24% to 21% of total imports between 2019 and 2020. And this is before Brexit came fully into effect. And now, Brexit trade disruption fuels boom at Irish and French ports

The ferry leaving Cherbourg on Thursday night for Rosslare had a full load of more than 100 trailers and trucks, while the nearby vessel bound for Portsmouth in England was less than one-fifth full.

The surge in demand for the routes linking the island of Ireland to the rest of the EU has fuelled a Brexit boom at French ports such as Cherbourg, Dunkirk and Roscoff, and at Rosslare in south-eastern Ireland.

"There was a tremendous shift in traffic with Brexit - and the paperwork - and the realisation that D-Day was finally here," said Glenn Carr, general manager at Rosslare port.

As a gale blows in from the chilly sea, Carr explains how the port, which "hadn't seen growth for a long number of years", has taken the benefit of a sudden jump in traffic and freight volumes.

"We went from three services [each way] last January to now today doing 16 sailings a week, which is 32 services to and from Rosslare to Europe," he said.

Meanwhile, the UK economy is estimated to have declined by 9.9% in 2020 with this agency report quoting Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak attributing the catastrophic decline entirely to the pandemic. I wonder what the excuse will be for this year, what with the UK leading the way on vaccinations.

It will take some years for the impact of Brexit on the British and Irish economies to be disentangled from the pandemic and for medium and long term trends to become clear. The short term trends for the UK are not promising, however, with more and more Irish firms switching suppliers from the UK to the EU to avoid Brexit created paperwork.

Amazon is setting up a distribution hub in Ireland having previously serviced the Irish market from the UK, and that seems to be the growing trend for more and more businesses. There are also signs of increased integration of the Irish and N. Ireland economies.

Ireland is the only European country with which the UK has a substantial trade surplus (€5.4 Billion, in 2020) and it is this trade surplus which is under threat, if these trends continue. What is the point of the UK joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, if it is losing its markets much nearer to home?

with the UK leading the way on vaccinations.

You mean: leading the way in the number of people having received a first jab.

If you look at the number of fully vaccinated people, who have received their two shots, the picture is quite different. The UK is even lagging behind France (which is arguably among the EU's laggards). This because the UK authorities have chosen to maximize the number of people receiving a first dose, while delaying the second dose up to 12 weeks after, against the recommendations of the vaccine manufacturers.

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Feb 16th, 2021 at 07:22:48 PM EST
I'm aware of those figures. My reference to vaccinations was somewhat sarcastic as it becomes more difficult to explain why the UK is doing so badly economically post Covid than most other countries when it has boasted so much about its vaccination success. People are bound to point out that other countries also had the pandemic and recovered much more quickly afterwards despite being slower to vaccinate.

The issue of delaying a second jab is an interesting one. AFAIK there is little hard evidence  to support an "optimum" time lag. But if one jab can give 80% immunity and 2 jabs give 95% immunity in one person, it might be better, from a heard immunity perspective, to give the two jabs to two different people. In 12 weeks time, the current production bottlenecks may have been overcome in any case, and the interval can be reduced again.

Also, a lot of people have already had covid - do they still need two jabs, or is one enough?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 16th, 2021 at 08:36:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, a lot of people have already had covid - do they still need two jabs, or is one enough?

France public health authorities are now recommending one  jab, but waiting for at least three months after the infection (that would include one Emmanuel Macron who was sick before Christmas).

France's health authority recommends one vaccine dose for recovered COVID-19 patients

France on Friday recommended that people who have already recovered from Covid-19 infection receive a single vaccine dose, becoming the first country to issue such advice.

Its public health authority said that people who had previously been infected with Covid-19 develop an immune response similar to that bestowed by a vaccine dose, and that a single dose after infection would likely suffice.

And yes, the health authorities are definitely pushing for people to have the two jabs within 3 to 4 weeks of each other, despite the current shortages. According to the figures, these past days there has been more second jabs (76,012 today) than first ones (33,202 today) - source: covidtracker.fr

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Feb 16th, 2021 at 08:58:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Two-shot vaccinations aim for maximum benefit: the first dose primes immunological memory, and the second dose solidifies it, says Thomas Denny, chief operating officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. "You can think of it like a gradient," he adds. One dose of the Pfizer vaccine can reduce the average person's risk of getting a symptomatic infection by about 50 percent, and one dose of the Moderna shot can do so by about 80 percent. Two doses of either vaccine lowers the risk by about 95 percent."


"If people are only partially immunized with one dose, could that fuel more dangerous coronavirus variants?

That is a real concern, according to Paul Bieniasz, a retrovirologist at the Rockefeller University. Early in the pandemic, there was little pressure on the novel coronavirus to evolve because nobody's immune system was primed against infection, and the microbe had easy pickings. But now millions of people have become infected and have developed antibodies, so mutations that give the virus a way to evade those defenses are rising to prominence. "The virus is going to evolve in response to antibodies, irrespective of how we administer vaccines," Bieniasz says. "The question is: Would we be accelerating that evolution by creating country-sized populations of individuals with partial immunity?"

Given SARS-CoV-2 is already mutating in the UK not completing the vaccination per clinical trial protocol is absolutely freaking stupid.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Feb 17th, 2021 at 05:54:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Covid-19 Bill Would Scale Up Ability to Spot Virus Mutations
from 0.3%-0.5% of pos #SARSCoV2 samples to 15%!
"We don't understand the prevalence of mutations "
by Cat on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 11:10:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
COVID-19 variant found in UK spreads 'like wildfire.' British experts fear what will happen if US won't lock down
Trevor Bedford, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said in a Twitter thread on Thursday that a steady decline in U.S. coronavirus cases that has brought levels back to where they were in late October could be threatened by the "rapid take-off of B.1.1.7." He said there is evidence that the B.1.1.7 variant "will reach 50% frequency in the U.S. perhaps by late March."
"I'm not sure at this point how much of a spring B.1.1.7 wave to expect," he said.  

In the U.S., there were 1,523  cases of B.1.1.7 reported across 42 states as of Feb. 18, according to CDC data.
In Britain, new daily coronavirus case counts have been hovering at about 12,000 for the last week. Christina Pagel, who leads a team of researchers at University College London who apply mathematics to problems in health care, said the B.1.1.7 variant now makes up about 90% of new cases in Britain.
Simon Clarke, a professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said that in addition to the B.1.1.7 variant being more contagious there is an emerging body of evidence suggesting it could be more lethal, a possibility that was initially raised by British scientists before being downplayed. He said there is anecdotal evidence from hospitals, not confirmed by studies, that the B.1.1.7 variant could be harming more younger people. However, he cautioned it was too early to drawn firm conclusions.

by Cat on Sat Feb 20th, 2021 at 09:15:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Viruses as Complex Adaptive Systems

New viruses continue to emerge that threaten people, crops, and farm animals. Viruses constantly evade our immune systems, and antiviral therapies and vaccination campaigns can be powerless against them. These unique characteristics of virus biology are a consequence of their tremendous evolutionary potential, which enables viruses to quickly adapt to any environmental challenge.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Feb 22nd, 2021 at 01:16:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
more and more Irish firms switching suppliers from the UK to the EU to avoid Brexit created paperwork.

Could the trend also extend to Northern Irish firms and businesses?

After all, it could be beneficial to Tesco and other British retailers in Belfast to source Spanish olive oil and Italian wines through Rosslare rather than Liverpool, especially if their competitors like Aldi or Lidl are doing it...

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Feb 16th, 2021 at 07:33:00 PM EST
What I read on another forum is that the UK chains in NI really struggle with fresh produce, while Lidl and Eurospar seem to be doing fine.

No pak choi or coriander but hey, why not try a delicious turnip from our new expanded turnip section?

by generic on Tue Feb 16th, 2021 at 08:15:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tesco has a huge distribution centre in Ireland (just north of Dublin) so they should be able to source produce within the EU without difficulty. This may take a while if they have a lot of current contracts with UK suppliers.

I suspect Sterling devaluation will also help to keep UK suppliers competitive in future. So far disruption at Irish ports has been minimal, so I doubt their buying patterns have changed much. The paperwork shouldn't be a problem for the large chains with large back-office staffs. However the UK may have difficulty harvesting fresh produce this summer if they can't attract Romanian pickers as usual.

Price, quality and availability will be the main determinants of product sourcing, but the paperwork burden will be proportionately much higher for the smaller players. If the EU/UK political scene turns nasty, you could also have "Buy EU" Marketing campaigns getting traction. Ireland used to run "Buy Irish" campaigns prior to EU membership.

Tesco has always had a very British image and imagery and I can see nationalists, north and south, but particularly in the north, boycotting it. Lidl has been gaining market share in any case, as has Aldi in the south, but it hasn't opened any outlets in the North yet.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 16th, 2021 at 08:53:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not just the Irish economy is shifting.

Trade worth hundreds of billions has shifted from London to New York due to Brexit.

The European derivatives market has seen a significant shift away from the UK and towards the US since Brexit officially took effect at the turn of the year.

London has traditionally dominated the European market for interest rate swaps -- derivative products that let companies guard against unexpected changes in interest rates.

But New York has seen its average weekly trade in these contracts balloon by over $600bn (£435bn) since the turn of the year, data provided to Yahoo Finance UK shows. Separate figures shows London's market share has fallen by 75%.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Feb 17th, 2021 at 05:56:58 AM EST
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Feb 17th, 2021 at 09:01:02 PM EST
Boris Johnson has appointed his Chief Brexit Negotiator, David Frost, to the Cabinet in charge of ongoing UK/EU relations. He is one of the last hold-outs of the Vote Leave faction to retain power in No. 10 after the sacking of Cummings and Cain.

Frost's new role to harden UK's approach to its EU commitments

He will replace Gove as co-chair of the UK-EU Partnership Committee that governs the implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and of the joint committee overseeing the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol. Despite his occasionally overheated rhetoric, Gove has for the most part taken a conciliatory approach to his role in the joint committee, seeking to turn down the temperature in recent days after attempting to exploit the EU's embarrassment over its article 16 debacle to win concessions.

Frost's style is more confrontational and he, along with Lewis, championed last year's British threat to break international law by reneging on the protocol in the internal market Bill. The EU's member states have made clear that they have no appetite for renegotiating the protocol or granting sweeping waivers, so there could be trouble ahead when Frost takes over those negotiations.

Each week that passes reveals a fresh deficiency in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement Frost negotiated with the EU, as one sector after another wakes up to its devastating consequences for their business. Frost is unlikely to admit that his deal left large parts of the British economy exposed to greater costs and higher bureaucratic hurdles in doing business with Europe and he is ideologically unable to agree to the kind of alignment of rules that could overcome some of the problems.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 12:20:38 AM EST
See my diary with Brussels context of equivalence UK-EU negotiations: Frost Bite ... etc. 🇬🇧 🇪🇺

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 03:17:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anthony Robinson at YorkshireBylines [Frost's cabinet role is a slap in the face for the British people] has some useful comments on the significance and consequences of the appointment.

Frost's appointment is not to negotiate future improvements but to ensure there are none. He is not likely to ask for any and, with him as their point of contact, the EU are likewise unlikely to offer any.

The following quip particularly appealed.

Johnson's choice of Brexit minister is full of irony, since the PM sent Frost to Brussels essentially to put an end to rule by unelected bureaucrats. Frost is not only an unelected bureaucrat himself, but now an unelected member of the Cabinet. We wait to learn who will answer EU questions in the Commons, since it can't be Frost. It does not look like an attractive job to me.


.... responsibility for EU relations will in future be spread across three Whitehall departments in what looks like a recipe for confusion and endless turf wars.

It is difficult to believe that the appointment of this abrasive individual is intended to promote "Cooperation" within the TCA nor harmonious relations with our "friends" as Johnson insists on calling other nations.

by oldremainmer48 on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 10:53:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Lord Frost will also succeed Michael Gove as the UK chairman of the EU-UK Partnership Council, but report directly to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster."

I assume Gove will be answering EU questions in the Commons.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 11:43:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lessons from Ireland, a Phoenix rises out of its ashes of revolt. Optimism.

Today's Ireland is built on political compromise. The UK could learn from its success

The habit of mind is the one that the president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, set out here last week when he wrote of the post-sectarian "ethical remembering" in which modern Ireland is reflecting on the centenaries of the state's birth between 1916 and 1922.

These deaths form a potent reminder that Ireland and Britain were once places of harder-edged identities and allegiances than they are today. Some of these still endure, and should not be denied. Others have evolved into what Higgins called "post-sectarian possibilities for the future".

Nevertheless, modern Britain remains a reluctant pupil. It is too hung up about its own supposed greatness. Higgins is right that until the UK engages more openly with its own imperial past, little is likely to change. Britain urgently needs a more capacious and more pluralist view of its history if it too is to be a nation at ease with itself.

From the diaries ...

Defending Ireland

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 07:36:32 AM EST
A Chara, - Finn McRedmond set up a classic straw man argument when she accused our President, Michael D Higgins, of intellectual laziness in casting "the entirety of British history as a monolithic, purely malign tale of imperialism" and of possessing "a unique level of arrogance to believe we are paragons of virtue in contrast; to believe that we are not in possession of our own "feigned amnesia"; and to believe we occupy a moral high ground thanks to a more nuanced understanding of the history of these two islands" in his article in the Guardian recently.  (Are we really entitled to lecture Britain about remembering? Opinion, 18th. February)

He does no such thing, but he has certainly touched a nerve in British Tory sensibilities, to judge by the vituperative anti-Irish tone in the Daily Telegraph response "The Irish president has a cheek lecturing Britons about history" and their readers' comments below. We all have our national myths, and no one has been more active than our President in seeking to question and understand ours. But in asking the British to consider there might be more than one side to the glories of their former empire he has clearly gone a bridge too far. They need their myths now, more than ever, to overcome the dystopian reality created by their Brexit overlords "taking back control".

The UK economy declined by 10% last year, which the UK government likes to blame entirely on the pandemic. But our economy grew by 2-3% last year despite the impact of the pandemic and is projected to grow by another 3-4% in each of the next two years despite the ongoing lockdowns and the impact of Brexit and a hugely reduced level of trade with Britain. Our exports to the UK declined by 9% and our UK imports by 5% last year, and that was before Brexit border controls were implemented. (Irish exports surge to record €160bn in 2020 despite pandemic, Business, Feb. 15th.) Meanwhile our exports to the EU single market and customs union grew by 13%, and so must our level of political engagement with the EU and our fellow member states.

Sadly, our president is wasting his time trying to persuade British Tories and their self-confessed supporter, Finn McRedmond, that they should reconsider the impact of their imperial past on their former colonies. They will find out soon enough, when they try to reassert their former dominance in trade negotiations with those countries. Our President and Irish Times opinion writers would serve us better by focusing on developing our political, cultural,  and economic links with our fellow EU members and neighbours, with whom we have rich historical associations and where our future now lies. Brexit was a choice to distance the UK from Ireland and our fellow EU member states, and we must now accept that reality and move on to developing our shared historical narrative and future with the latter.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 01:29:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Scepticism over Oxford vaccine threatens Europe's immunisation push
Politicians in Germany are stepping out in support of the AstraZeneca vaccine as public scepticism around the University of Oxford-developed product threatens to hamper Europe's Covid-19 immunisation programme.

The vaccine, subject of an acrimonious tug-of-war between its British-Swedish manufacturer and the European commission last month, is being described by German media as a "shelf warmer" as only about 17% of doses delivered to the country have been administered so far.

According to the German disease control agency's monitoring, 129,021 doses of a delivered 736,800 had been administered by Thursday this week

Side-effects that can follow a shot of the Oxford-developed vaccine, which were reported in clinical trials, are also causing logistical problems in its use among medics.

Karl-Dieter Heller, the director of the Herzogin Elisabeth hospital in Braunschweig, told Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper that he had decided to vaccinate his staff only in smaller groups and on Fridays, after 40% of one group called in sick with flu-like symptoms after receiving their jab on a Thursday.

Heller said none of his staff had fallen seriously ill and all were able to return to work on the Monday after.

Other countries have reported similar problems. In Sweden's Sörmland and Gävleborg regions, health authorities temporarily paused vaccinations after a quarter of workers injected with the AstraZeneca shot called in sick the following day, but added the programme would resume with the same vaccine the following week.

In south-west France, a hospital in Périgueux asked in an open letter that the AstraZeneca vaccine be replaced with shots from Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer after 50% to 70% of injected staff experienced side-effects.

At a general hospital in the Austrian capital, Vienna, 500 members of staff signed a protest letter after finding out they would receive the AstraZeneca shot rather than the BioNTech/Pfizer one.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 20th, 2021 at 10:03:21 AM EST
Virologists are losing their credibility as the political cause takes hold across Europe ...

In Germany, solidarity of people under 65 years old enforced.

Until now, Berlin has been the only German state where people could choose their vaccine. But that has now changed.

"There is no freedom of choice about AstraZeneca," Dilek Kalayci, Berlin's top health official, said Wednesday. Different vaccines would still be issued in different vaccination centers, but people under 65 have no choice about which one they receive, she explained.

Kalayci's decision came after a recommendation by the commission on vaccination at the RKI. According to the institute, vaccines that are recommended only for people between 18 and 65 years of age should also be used "primarily" for these groups of people. However, this recommendation alone is unlikely to dispel skepticism about the British-Swedish vaccine and could lead to younger people being reluctant to be vaccinated at all.

Doctors also explain that side-effects such as headaches and aching limbs or even fever are not uncommon after a COVID vaccination. In younger people, side effects occur more frequently because the immune system is still more active and reacts more aggressively to any vaccination than in older people.

The discipline in a hierarchical state as in Germany is not uncommon, PM Rutte had already embraced the "no-choice" rule in the Netherlands.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Feb 21st, 2021 at 08:24:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]

A separate group of DUP members have engaged senior legal counsel to prepare for a series of challenges to the protocol.

Foster said: "Fundamental to the Act of Union is unfettered trade throughout the UK. At the core of the Belfast agreement was the principle of consent, yet the Northern Ireland protocol has driven a coach and horses through both the Act of Union and the Belfast agreement."

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Feb 21st, 2021 at 08:42:11 PM EST
Last throws of the DUP will be ugly
by asdf on Mon Feb 22nd, 2021 at 05:17:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A Chara,- David Trimble writes "the Northern Ireland protocol ignores the fundamental principle of consent. Northern Ireland is no longer fully part of the UK" (David Trimble: Tear up the Northern Ireland protocol to save the Belfast Agreement, Opinion & Analysis, 20th. February) and Alex Kane argues that he "can't remember a moment when unionism has been so unsettled " (Unsettled unionists caught in perfect storm, Opinion & Analysis, 22nd. February)

The DUP had a glorious opportunity after the Brexit vote to take on the leadership of both communities in N. Ireland and accept the decision of the 56% who voted remain. They could have negotiated on behalf of the large majority to secure a future in both the UK and the EU. Instead, they chose to go a narrow sectarian route and tried to impose a hard border within the island of Ireland just to spite their nationalist neighbours.

It never occurred to them that Ireland, as part of the EU, would have the negotiating clout to prevent that from happening.

And now they have the gall to argue there is a lack of consent to the protocol when it was negotiated on their behalf by their conservative "partners" in the UK government after they had thrice rejected Theresa May's deal which required no such N. Ireland protocol.

They also have the gall to ignore the fact that article 18 of the protocol requires the N. Ireland assembly to approve the continued operation of the protocol on a regular basis. Apparently "consent" for unionists means not consent by 56% of the electorate or consent by a majority of the Assembly. It means consent by and for Unionists only.

But that is not what the Good Friday Agreement, negotiated by David Trimble, says: It requires just a 50%+1 majority to transfer sovereignty in total over N. Ireland from Britain to Ireland.

Unionists should be happy to still have "the best of both worlds," continued membership of the United Kingdom and relatively free access to both the EU and UK markets, but of course Unionists are only happy when they can lord it over nationalists and claim to be the victims at the same time.

They have overplayed their hand before, and if they do so again, they could find the British government washing their hands of them completely. Just wait for the wailing and gnashing of teeth then. It appears Sophocles had a point when he wrote: "Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad" (Antigone)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 22nd, 2021 at 05:45:38 PM EST

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