Brexit to hit Irish marine firms, report finds

By Pádraig Hoare

Brexit will have an enormous negative impact on the Irish marine industry, with four out of five firms bracing for disruption, delays, compliance, and additional costs, a report has found.

The findings from a joint survey by PwC and the Irish Marine Institute, ahead of a marine industry event in Galway today, also show anxiety around potentially restricted access to continental Europe via the so-called UK land bridge.

PwC customs and international trade partner John O’Loughlin said given continued uncertainties, his firm was advising businesses to plan for a potential hard Brexit, especially exporters.

“For the marine sector, which is highly export-orientated, planning is essential, particularly where the UK is the end-market.

“In addition, planning is essential when using the UK-land bridge. A review of supply contracts will be critical when determining who is responsible for fulfilling all relevant customs obligations on import and export.

“There will be a need to lodge customs declarations and manage other administration and compliance matters as well as dealing with the risk of delays at ports. But there are opportunities and market diversification is essential. Firms need to plan now for the possible interruption and disruption that may be caused by Brexit,” Mr O’Loughlin said ahead of the ocean wealth summit.

Calls for additional funding for Irish ports in a post-Brexit EU have gained momentum in recent months, with Port of Cork bosses saying it is vital in order for Ireland to avoid “isolation” from the continent.

Chief executive Brendan Keating has warned that the country is at significant risk of isolation following Brexit and will need EU funding to shore up lack of connectivity to major European routes.

“I’m concerned about maritime transport connectivity. State aid rules, as currently constituted, don’t allow EU support of the purchase of ships or that kind of mobile asset, I believe. However, I do believe some kind of subvention can be issued to operators of such ships for such services.” 

Port of Cork chairman John Mullins told the Oireachtas transport committee in February that Brexit was “now a real issue” for Irish imports and exports. “If there is a hard Brexit and it leads to major queues in Holyhead or in Fishguard this will create an enormous issue for the supply chain.”

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