Food leaders’ contingency plans to minimise Brexit impact

A recent survey by Bord Bia which found that 40% of Irish food and drink exporters expect their sales to decline in the wake of the British exit from the EU whas been as raised in the Dáil.

Labour TD Willie Penrose asked Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to outline his contingency plans to mitigate the effects on agri-food.

Irish food and drink exports to the UK accounted for 41% of total exports in 2015, valued at €4.4bn, he said.

Mr Creed said he acknowledges the concerns of the agri-food sector on potential implications of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

“My department and our agencies, in association with our stakeholders, have been giving careful consideration to this issue, looking at the areas in which the greatest risks may arise and on which we will need to focus when negotiations begin,” said Mr Creed.

He added the immediate concerns for agri-food exporters centre on exchange rates. In that regard, the Central Bank of Ireland has pre-established contingency plans to deal with market volatility.

The bank will engage with the Department of Finance and individual financial institutions regarding potential risks. Actions by ECB and other global actors will be monitored closely.

In addition, Mr Creed has asked Bord Bia to assist SMEs in dealing with marketing challenges arising in the short term. It has announced a number of measures to support food and drink businesses.

These measures cover areas such as managing volatility impacts, the provision of consumer and market insight, deepening customer engagement, and extending market reach, with the aim of helping companies maintain their competitiveness.

Major concerns relate to currency fluctuations, tariffs and trade, the EU budget, regulations and standards, and customs controls and certification, while complex issues also arise for the fisheries sector.

“However, we must remember that our trading relationship with the UK is not altered in any way until the negotiation process that will dictate the terms and conditions of the UK’s departure is completed,” said Mr Creed. “In the meantime, and as part of our overall contingency planning, I have established a dedicated unit in my Department to work on all of the issues that I have mentioned, and I have convened a consultative committee of stakeholders to ensure a full exchange of information as the negotiations proceed.

“The department will also continue to feed into the central Contingency Framework being co-ordinated by the Department of the Taoiseach.”

Meanwhile, Bord Bia brought together more than 180 Irish exporters and experts from the UK food retail market to share information on the post-Brexit trading landscape and to outline its measures for supporting companies in the new trading environment. The Irish companies received insights from experts on current UK and EU market conditions and currency management.


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