Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment
16. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment if his Department expects Brexit to have a disproportionate impact on employment and business in rural Ireland; the specific mitigation strategy in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30602/20]
I want to stress the importance for businesses to act now to get ready for the changes that we know are coming on 1stJanuary 2021 and to make it clear that these changes will happen regardless of the outcome of the negotiations between the EU and the UK on a Free Trade Agreement.
Government is preparing for Brexit preparations through the various Schemes and programmes implemented through our agencies. Recently, I wrote to all 225,000 businesses registered in the State to inform them of the most important actions that they need to take in advance of 1 January and to provide them with a useful Brexit checklist of those actions and contact details of the Government agencies they can contact for help. The Revenue Commissioners have written to over 90,000 businesses that have traded with the UK since 2019 to advise them of the essential customs changes that lie ahead. That letter also included relevant information from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on exporting animals, plants and products of animal and plant origin.
I launched a €20 million ‘Ready for Customs’ support scheme through my Department’s agency Enterprise Ireland to help businesses prepare for the challenges of trading with and through the UK.
In early September, Government published a Brexit Readiness Action Plan. This readiness work is supported by a major national communications campaign under the ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ brand.
Regional development is a focus for the Government through the programme of work being undertaken by Enterprise Ireland through the ‘Powering the Regions’ strategy to drive scale and expand the reach of our indigenous enterprise, strengthen regional infrastructure and drive the growth of businesses across Ireland.
The Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) which is administered by Enterprise Ireland was introduced to drive the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that can sustain and add to employment at county, regional and national level.
There have been three calls under the Fund to date and just over €100 million in funding has been approved to 68 projects, with projects approved in every region.
The €28 million Border Enterprise Development Fund (BEDF), is part of an economic stimulus package announced for the six border counties and 11 projects have recently been approved funding totalling over €17 million.
Enterprise Ireland runs an on-line Customs Insights course which is helping businesses to understand the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to move goods from, to and through the UK. Enterprise Ireland will also launch a Brexit Readiness Checker.
In addition, the Local Enterprise Offices will be carrying out the second phase of their one-to-one successful Brexit mentoring and training workshops called “Prepare Your Business for Customs” workshops and will be supported by a full awareness campaign to target all relevant small Irish businesses together with an online “Countdown Campaign” that will mark every significant day in the lead up to December 31st.
I can assure the Deputy that I will continue to work with my colleagues across Government and with all stakeholders, to assist all businesses impacted by both Brexit and COVID-19.