Thursday, 18 February 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
11. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which various issues arising from Brexit have been identified as negatively impacting on the economy; the extent of the introduction of measures to address these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9314/21]
12. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the degree to which Ireland’s consular sector overseas continues to counter Brexit-related impacts on the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9315/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 12 together.
In the seven weeks since the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement came into force that sets us on a different course for trading with the UK, we are seeing some short-term disruption arising from the new requirements around customs and SPS checks and controls. Supply chains are gradually adjusting to the new arrangements and documentary requirements and I acknowledge that this is presenting a significant overhead for businesses.
Across Government, we are proactively engaged on a regular basis with shipping companies, hauliers and logistics companies, business representative groups, retailers and individual businesses to manage the issues arising from the new trading relationship with the UK.
Over the last four budgets Government has invested heavily in infrastructure, resources in State agencies, financial supports and enterprise supports to assist businesses to navigate in a post Brexit trading environment. Through the enterprise agencies, I have put in place an extensive suite of enterprise supports that range from liquidity supports through short-term and long-term loans, to restructuring aid for businesses in severe operating difficulties. The majority of enterprise supports are open to all businesses, including SMEs, and not just those that are clients of the enterprise agencies. In the meantime, my Department is continuing to monitor and work with all sectors in the economy as they experience Brexit fallout while dealing in parallel with COVID-19.
Budget 2021 allocated unprecedented resources to confronting the twin challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit, with €340 million to be spent on Brexit-related measures. Government has also provided for a €3.4 billion recovery fund to assist businesses in the aftermath of COVID-19 and Brexit. A full list of enterprise and financial supports is available on my Department’s website at www.enterprise.gov.ie and on www.Gov.ie/Brexit.
The results of analysis carried out in 2018 and later in January 2020 on the likely impacts of Brexit on key sectors of the Irish economy identified the Agri-Food sector as the sector likely to be the most impacted. In that respect, the recent announcement of the €100 million Capital Investment Scheme for the Processing and Marketing of Agricultural Products, managed by Enterprise Ireland, is just one of the ways the Government is helping the Agri-Food sector manage the fallout from Brexit.
I am committed to ensuring that the most impacted sectors of the economy will be given the State assistance they require. The proposal to allocate €1 billion in the first tranche of the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve to Ireland is welcome and is strong recognition for the fact that Ireland is one of the most impacted Member States by Brexit. The fund will be used to mitigate the worst impacts of Brexit for the most impacted sectors in the economy.
In relation to consular services overseas, the Deputy can ask for more detailed information from my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. However, the UK is, and will remain, a major market for Irish companies, and expanding the Irish export footprint in markets beyond the UK is a key priority. In that context, Enterprise Ireland’s strategy is to support Irish exporters to be more innovative, competitive and market diversified.
As we continue to address the many challenges and complexities raised by Brexit, it is our intention to maintain our valuable trading relationship with the UK in the years ahead. For that reason, as part of the Global Ireland 2025 Strategy, Enterprise Ireland opened a new office in Manchester in 2019. This new office, which complements the work carried out by the agency in its London office, enables Enterprise Ireland to continue to support Irish companies to consolidate and grow exports to the UK.