More than €360m worth of trade between Ireland and the UK is at immediate risk from a no-deal Brexit, one of the country’s drinks industry umbrella bodies has warned.
Ahead of Wednesday’s Brexit meeting of EU leaders in Brussels, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland said the prospect of the UK leaving the EU with no trade deal and no Irish border solution in place would be disastrous for the drinks industry. The Ibec-affiliated group said a no-deal scenario would disrupt 23,000 cross-border truck movements and apply unnecessary tariffs on cross-border supply chains.
“The Irish drinks industry is a highly integrated all-island sector, that’s important for both the Irish and Northern Irish economies. For us, Brexit could be highly disruptive, particularly if there was to be a disastrous ‘no deal’ scenario,” said the federation’s director Patricia Callan.
However, this need not be the case and we would urge all parties to seek to ensure that a withdrawal agreement is concluded and that a no-deal Brexit is avoided. We want to see clear, robust provisions to safeguard the all-island economy and to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland,” she said.
Global drinks’ exports from all of Ireland were valued at €1.6bn in 2017. The aggregate value of trade in drinks products between Ireland and the UK was €364m, one third of which was the aggregate value of north-south trade.
“The economic interests of both the EU and the UK would be best served by the UK remaining in a customs union with the EU. If this cannot be achieved, then a comprehensive alternative approach must be put in place. A fallback to EU external tariffs or WTO rates must be avoided,” said Ms Callan.
“Tariffs would add significant costs to Northern Irish whiskey distilleries and breweries buying barley and malt from Ireland, to Irish craft distilleries and breweries buying specialist malts from the UK and to Irish cider producers buying apples from Co Armagh.
“Similarly, tariffs on finished cider products would damage the cost competitiveness of Irish and Northern Irish cider producers, threatening sales and jobs,” she said.