British Irish Chamber calls for State supports to Brexit-proof Ireland’s agri-food sector

British Irish Chamber calls for State supports to Brexit-proof Ireland’s agri-food sector

Brexit's impact on the agri-food sector will be the main topic of discussion at a seminar in Dublin today.

The British Irish Chamber of Commerce event is hearing from industry leaders on how best the sector can prepare itself for the uncertainty.

John McGrane, head of the British Irish Chamber, said he is worried about any changes to customs arrangements that Brexit may bring.

He said: "Irish food flows very freely from farm to fork through great Irish production facilities, through transportation across the Irish Sea and on to supermarket shelves tomorrow morning as a fresh, high-quality product.

"That works because there are no barriers in the way in terms of slow-downs at ports or documentation to be filled in, etc.

"So, we are very worried about any change to that."

Speaking at the event, Maree Gallagher, Chair of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce Agri-Food Committee and food & drug lawyer at Covington & Burling LLP said: “The agri-food sector is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry employing around 250,000 people enabling €12.6bn in exports a year.

"Despite Ireland being the biggest source of the UK’s food imports in relation to beef and dairy, agri-food trade across the Irish Sea is not one-way traffic; Ireland imports in the region of €4bn per annum of agri-food products from the UK.

“With uncertainty now surrounding those links, it is the British Irish Chamber’s position that the Government must urgently enhance the competitiveness of Ireland’s agri-food offering.

"The introduction of a carbon tax on the sector in Budget 2019 would only further undermine the capacity of Irish agri-food companies to prepare for Brexit and to diversify their trading links.

"Steps should instead be taken to provide State supports to all businesses exposed to the UK market and to increase funding to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). Through these measures we can ensure the agri-food sector is robust enough to withstand the impact of Brexit.”

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