A hard Brexit, with no consideration for the flow of goods into and out of the country, would be disastrous for Ireland, according to Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI), the country’s leading membership association representing companies within the supply chain.
Speaking before the Senead Special Select Committee, on Wednesday, FTAI’s General Manager Aidan Flynn reiterated the association’s call for a dedicated minister for Brexit and the Supply Chain to be appointed before negotiations start. Without a minister operating in this position, Flynn said, the Irish economy could be left at a severe disadvantage
“Today’s marketplace has been established on ‘just in time’ logistics,” he says, “and businesses in the UK and in Europe have grown used to ease of access to products and services as and when they are required. Negotiating the UK’s departure from the EU without considering the implications for trade could be disastrous for Irish business, and the Irish economy as a whole, and our members need to be reassured that government has the best interests of the freight sector at heart during the talks. Without that commitment, the sustained success of the nation’s trading relationship, both with the UK and the rest of Europe, will be placed in jeopardy.”
“For many years, goods and services have moved freely between the Republic and Northern Ireland, and cross border trade is now worth approximately E3million annually, with food and drink accounting for almost half that sum. No other country in the UK is as reliant on the UK as Ireland, both as a trading partner and for access to the rest of the continent, and to progress negotiations without Ireland having a seat at the negotiating table could signal disaster for jobs, business and our future economic success.”
The UK is Ireland’s second biggest export market after the USA, taking 12.8% of the country’s exports in 2016. The UK currently purchases 50% of Ireland’s exports of beef, 55% of the nation’s timber and construction exports and 42% of the nation’s food and drink exports.
“Swift, simple movement of goods must continue between Ireland and the rest of Europe, if the nation’s economy is to continue to flourish,” continues Flynn. “Any Brexit negotiation must include provision for trade to continue to move freely in both directions, into and out of the Republic with minimal delay and no hard border which would create difficulties in administration, tariffs and time delays. By including a representative of the industry, in the form of an Irish Brexit minister, at the heart of negotiations with the EU, the government would send a positive signal to the Irish business community, and the logistics sector in particular, that the importance of the sector and its contribution to future economic success, has been acknowledged.”
During his speech to the Committee, Flynn also raised other concerns including the increased legislation and bureaucracy involved in implementing a “hard border”, between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which would leave freight delayed in transit and potentially add costs to the overall cost of transportation.
“The freight and logistics sector in Ireland is committed to making Brexit a success for everyone,” he concluded. “But to achieve a workable solution for all, there must be agreed systems, controls and standards of compliance requirements which do not hinder the progress of goods between Ireland and the rest of Europe, and time allowed to make the changes necessary. Placing an Irish representative at the heart of the Brexit negotiations would send a message to the nation’s businesses that they have a key role to play in a successful outcome for all, and ensure that a joined up supply chain can be maintained into and out of the Irish Republic. Without involving Ireland in the process, there is a risk to our economy, both now and in the future.”