Brexit and Alcohol Bill may be perfect storm which costs 40,000 jobs, say drink industry

The combination of Brexit and the unintended economic consequences of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will only serve to exacerbate pressure on the sector, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) suggested today.

The group which represents brewers, distillers and drinks distributors on the whole island of Ireland has welcomed the publication of a Seanad Report on Brexit which it said addresses many of the drinks industry’s concerns.

The group said it reflects many of the recommendations made both in the Seanad and in their recently published report The Impact of Brexit on the Irish Drinks Industry.

Commenting on the publication, Director of ABFI Patricia Callan said the Seanad Report confirms that post Brexit trade with the UK could decline by up to 20% and as many as 40,000 jobs could be lost.

"We already know that tourist numbers from the UK have dropped by 7%, so it’s clear we need to reduce our costs. The case to reduce excise duties has never been stronger. Ireland has the second highest excise tax on alcohol overall in the EU and has the most expensive alcohol in the EU at 175% of the EU average. This impacts tourism, penalises consumers and restricts the sector’s economic contribution.”

Ms Callan went on to say she was delighted to see the group’s proposal that the Government challenge EU state aid rules was referenced in the Seanad Report.

"Drinks companies currently have over €1.1 billion in exports each year, and it is essential that this is protected and indeed developed further. The Seanad Report also highlighted the importance of a pre-clearance model for goods whereby trucks and drivers can cross the border without incurring duties or checks. This is vital for many of our members who have all Ireland supply chains.”

She went on: “The Report identifies Brexit as one of the largest competitiveness shocks that the Irish agri-food industry has faced. The drinks industry is an Irish success story employing over 200,000 people around the country and supporting 12,000 farm families.

"The combination of Brexit and the unintended economic consequences of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will only serve to exacerbate pressure on the sector. Now is not the time to impose ineffective regulation and additional costs on drinks companies”, she concluded.

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