Exporters wary ahead of new Brexit regulations

Concerns have been expressed about the state of readiness among Irish exporters for the next batch of post-Brexit regulations which are due to take effect in October.

Currently, products coming from the UK, which is now a country outside the European Union, can be subject to customs and other checks upon arrival in Ireland.

From October 1, the process will also apply to goods going the other way.

The new checks will relate to any product of animal origin and will mean that exports will need export health certificates before entering the UK.

The Secretary of Agriculture, Food and the Sea, Charlie McConnaugh, encouraged producers and exporters to do all they can to prepare for the new system.

However, some in the sector are concerned that the UK’s new certification and inspection system could lead to delays and additional costs.

Kieran Tracy of Nolan Transport, now one of Europe’s largest transport companies, where food and other agricultural products account for a large proportion of the transit business, said more «conjoined thinking» was needed between the various Irish state agencies involved in screening. exports. .

He said the early weeks of the post-Brexit era saw delays for carriers as they dealt with the new round of paperwork and checks, and more headaches could loom.

“We will see significant delays in October. The checks that the Irish state is currently carrying out on goods coming into the country [from outside the EU] The UK will get it done on goods destined for the UK, so if we deal with the way we handle these goods at the moment I can see massive delays.

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He warned that «any pressure points currently located near ports here or in the UK will be exacerbated when the new UK regime comes into effect».

«You could be looking at an extra 24 hour transit time from A to B, from Ireland to the UK, so your 48 hour load is looking probably twice that.»

Michael Flanagan of Walsh Mushrooms with Secretary of Agriculture, Food and the Sea Charlie McConologue
Michael Flanagan of Walsh Mushrooms with Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConologue

Michael Flanagan of Walsh Mushrooms, which has a number of production bases including Gorey in Wexford, Golden in Tipperary and Mullingar in Westmeath, said Brexit has already led to a lot of challenges, including more paperwork. and expenses.

«There are external factors such as the exchange rate which made it a difficult trading environment,» he said.

There have already been delays this year and more could follow in October, «particularly the additional costs involved, the correctness and complexity of paperwork to make sure you don’t run into any hitches, and then the customs clearance fees.»

The latter operates at 60 euros per load, and at 50 loads per week up to 3,000 euros per week as additional costs to the company.

Walsh Mushroom exports about 500 tons of products to the UK every week. This is 90% of its output.

According to the government, 140 people will be recruited and redeployed for any necessary new checks at Rossler Port and as support staff.

The post-Brexit regime has already led to a significant increase in the amount of checks for non-EU goods coming into this country, from 3,500 last year to more than 30,000 in 2021.

Minister McConnalog said there are «additional challenges» to industry and agriculture, and more will follow.

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«Fortunately, we had additional time to prepare and for businesses to prepare because Britain delayed the introduction of checks on European goods entering Britain, which went into effect for goods coming into Ireland on January 1 from Britain,» McConologue said.

“But it’s really important now that companies get ready now and that my management and officials are dealing with them very intensively before that.

“It is to ensure that trade flows, that there is no disruption and that we continue to maintain access to this British market that is so important across our economy.

«Especially for our agri-food sector where 40% of our total exports go to Britain.»

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