Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
171. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures being undertaken to ensure that there is no difficulties receiving essential imported goods into Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43922/20]
Brexit, in whatever shape it finally takes, will have a significant impact on the Irish economy, fundamentally changing the trading environment for businesses, including importers trading with the UK, excluding Northern Ireland. With just two weeks until the UK leaves the Single Market and the Customs Union, work to ensure Government, business and citizens are getting Brexit ready is of paramount importance, because change will happen from 1 January 2021.
Since the outcome of the UK referendum on Brexit in 2016, Government has had in place a rolling work programme across all Departments to bring about the necessary changes for Brexit. The central objective has been to provide, as far as possible, for the continuity of the free flow of trade with the UK (excluding Northern Ireland).
An important aspect of the Government response has been infrastructural work necessitated at our ports and airports and in particular, at Dublin Port, Rosslare Europort and Dublin Airport. This is essential in maintaining the flow of trade in and out of the country to the greatest extent possible, including essential imported goods.
Since 2018, work has been undertaken across Government to invest in the infrastructure, systems, and staffing required for the additional customs checks and other regulatory controls required at Dublin Port, Rosslare Europort and Dublin Airport to allow for continuity of trade with Great Britain.
As well as building the necessary infrastructure, Budget 2021 also provides for additional resourcing for Departments, Offices and Agencies, including the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and the HSE, to support and carry out customs, SPS and food safety checks and controls.
The Department of Transport has also been working with shipping companies, hauliers and port operators in terms of the provision of alternative direct shipping routes to Europe instead of using the UK Landbridge given likely delays using that route to get to and from European markets. Direct routes will avoid the uncertainty of delays and disruption from 1 January 2021 and the need for customs notifications, documentation and financial guarantees. A number of the ferry operators have announced the provision of additional capacity on direct routes to Europe from January next and recently, a new operator to the Irish market announced a regular ferry services from Rosslare to Dunkirk.
In addition, Government has made available to businesses a range of advisory services, financial incentives such as Brexit planning vouchers, as well as financial grant aid to help businesses get ready for Brexit. These are all provided through agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices and InterTradeIreland. In particular, Enterprise Ireland provides a Ready for Customs grant of up to €9k per employee to assist companies to take on staff to assist with customs declarations and formalities.
I would encourage importers to avail of these supports as for many, trading with the UK from 1 January with new customs and SPS controls and checks will be a major change and a significant overhead for which they need to be prepared. Despite all of the work that has been completed across Government to help businesses get Brexit ready, undoubtedly the new checks and controls that will apply to trade with the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) from 1 January will give rise to initial delays in the movement of goods through the ports.