Planning for a No Deal outcome to Brexit negotiations need to be ramped up



The failure of the UK Government’s “meaningful vote” will have significant ramifications across the Irish Sea from Westminster, according to FTA Ireland, the body which represents Ireland’s logistics industry, unless the Irish administration takes urgent steps.  As Aidan Flynn, General Manager of FTAI explains, the nation’s future economic success rests on Ireland being able to reinforce its supply chain and reassure businesses on both sides of the border that trade can continue uninterrupted.

“Irish businesses cannot wait any longer – planning for a No Deal outcome to Brexit negotiations need to be ramped up to ensure that the nation’s trading relationships do not come under threat while new arrangements are bedded in.  Minister Simon Coveney, who is leading Brexit engagement, must now meet with stakeholders in the logistics industry as a matter of urgency – despite many requests from FTAI, this has not happened in the past two years.  This lack of contact and failure to understand the issues facing operators is leaving a sector which is at the heart of Irish business without guidance or support from central government at a critical point in our nation’s history.  This is simply not good enough.

“The funding available through Enterprise Ireland and InterTradeIreland for Brexit planning is a welcome boost for such a vital sector, but it simply does not go far enough.  With no clear indications on how goods will be permitted to travel across the nation’s borders, what checks will be required, how they will be made and, indeed, what format these checks will take, the funding available is insufficient to enable fast track training and development for businesses and staff to ensure that goods can continue to move to and from Ireland.  New checks, whether physical or online, will create delays which will impact the “just in time” nature of the country’s supply chain, and it is unfair to simply expect these to be in place from 11pm on 29 March, with no training, advice or assistance for businesses which will have to work with the new arrangements.”

As Aidan continues, while recruitment of new veterinary and revenue inspectors has been started by the Irish government, this cannot be used as a marker of Brexit readiness: “There is more to being ready than adding inspectors to carry out border checks – if business is unaware of the systems which will be employed at the border, and has insufficient training or information, delays will be the unavoidable outcome as business tries to move goods or materials.  Government needs to engage with industry representatives and stakeholders to support training and upskilling of industry across the economy and build awareness of the processes which will be implemented:  at the moment, there is little or no guidance available.  The logistics industry is ready and willing to adapt, but needs information – and must not be used as the whipping boy for the government’s lack of forward planning or engagement with the business community.”

“Whatever happens in Westminster, it is vital for the continued success of the Irish economy that a transition period is negotiated with the UK to enable business the time it needs to prepare for the new trading conditions which will exist from the end of March.  Not least to allow the negotiation of a new free trade deal, which will protect the integrity of Ireland’s complex, interconnected supply chain.    Government is currently hanging the responsibility for making this new environment work on the logistics industry, with no help or support, which is unacceptable – the logistics sector is at the heart of everything that moves through the country’s economy, and should be afforded some respect and consideration to ensure that Ireland can keep trading effectively, both domestically and internationally.”