Preparing for something that may never happen isn’t the easiest of tasks but that hasn’t stopped the Irish Exporters Association (IEA) from stepping up its efforts to get businesses ready for Brexit. IEA communications and public affairs manager Pascal Koenig explains: “The core focus has to be in putting contingency plans in place. Even without a No Deal Brexit, it will help companies prepare for whatever Brexit there is and it will help them with their trading with third countries anyway.” IEA is helping Irish firms of

all sizes get their infrastructure, IT tools, training of staff and general preparedness in place. Becoming an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) may well help, although this isn’t an option for every firm, nor is everyone suited to AEO, as it comes with “obligations as well as simplifications” as Koenig points out. Having awareness of how

customs works is vital for firms used to trading solely within the European Union and who may not have had to concern themselves with such matters in the past; there is a shortage of people with the necessary expertise throughout Ireland, Koenig confirms. Companies can carry out the

necessary work and submit entries to customs themselves, or use a broker – if they can find one. “Doing it in-house gives you more control, but you would need to put in place the necessary IT structures.” A customs broker would solve this problem, but they have become scarce ever since Ireland joined the EU a quarter of a century ago. Firms

also need to give

some thought to how they will transport goods across borders aſter Brexit. Manufacturers, exporters, transporters, shipping companies and their agents will need to decide who is responsible for providing what

information; quite how

information is going to be provided when a truck rolls onto a ferry at 20 minutes’ notice remains to be seen, of course. There could be issues with groupage or mixed loads, or anything agricultural that would be subject to Port Health inspection when crossing the

UK/Ireland border aſter Brexit. Companies need to consider

strategies to reduce the number of checks and physical searches their goods may be subject to. “Perhaps, if you have any say in the matter, consider how you might split non-agricultural from agri goods,” Koenig suggests. There will be some changes

to how VAT is dealt with on UK trade. As a third country, VAT will technically be due on import, although the Irish Government has just put in place legislation – expected to be put in place by 13 March - that will allow VAT payments on imports from all third countries, including the UK, to be deferred to the next accounting period, to ease the cashflow burden on businesses. The UK government’s recent statement that it will not require safety and security declarations for another six months will also help, as will the decision to remain within the EU transit system says Koenig. However, it is in general

difficult to know what to advise IEA members because so little firm information has come out of either HM Revenue & Customs or the UK government. Koenig also points out that

there are now options available for Irish firms wishing to avoid the UK landbridge with Brittany Ferries’ year-round direct link between Rosslare and Santander and the new Irish Ferries direct service between Dublin and Cherbourg. “Some of these options take longer and are costlier than going via the UK, but demand for them is strong, though not yet at maximum capacity. But if need be, capacity could be increased aſter 29 March,” Koenig says. Container shipping is another option. However, the UK landbridge

still suits a lot of traffic. Not only can it offer faster, more frequent departures but, where an Irish exporter cannot fill a full vehicle, it gives the possibility of combining goods destined for the UK with those for other destinations in Europe. Meanwhile, Koenig detects a shiſt in the attitude of IEA members towards Brexit. “Last year, it was more about currency changes than anything else. Then it shiſted from ‘It will be fine, somehow’ to: ‘This is something we need to think about’. But it’s

only in the last 2-3 months that companies have started to do real analysis of what a ‘No Deal’ would mean and making active preparations.” The first stage of this could

well be carrying out training in customs issues. IEA itself offers two levels of awareness training,

along with a course

on Brexit and the supply chain. There has in fact been a massive spike in customs training in Ireland, boosted by a €2,000 training voucher available from the all-Ireland Intertrade agency. The training offered by IEA covers how to fill out forms and the meaning of tariff codes, although further training would

Issue 2 2019 - FBJ

3 IEA helps Irish firms find a third way

be needed by firms wishing to actually make customs entries themselves. Other bodies offering similar

courses include Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) and various local bodies. Meanwhile, Irish firms

are making more physical preparations for Brexit. Koenig

has heard of “quite a few” UK companies

that have moved

their European distribution hubs out of Europe and placed them in Continental European locations such as Belgium and the Netherlands. There has also been a steady stream of firms shiſting headquarters functions out of the UK in favour of Ireland.

IPS Groupage Services Ltd - Dublin & Cork Tel: + 353 1 890 6600 Fax: +353 1 890 6666

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