Wednesday, 13 January 2021Food Drink Ireland (FDI), the Ibec sector representing the food and drink industry has welcomed the announcement that Ireland will receive over €1bn, or 25%, from the EU Brexit fund in 2021 but called for targeted support measures in the sector.
FDI Director Paul Kelly said “The Irish food and drink sector is by far the most exposed of any sector in any country in Europe to Brexit. Even with a EU-UK deal, we now face additional paperwork, customs and SPS formalities, transport delays and disruption to delivery schedules. All these changes are imposing additional costs on businesses and supports are urgently needed not just to support companies within the food and drink sector, but also the jobs, communities, and downstream suppliers reliant on them, including the farming sector and its longer-term sustainability.
“Today’s publication of Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report, shows the resilience of Ireland’s food and drink sector in the face of unprecedented global challenges in 2020 with just a marginal 2% decline in exports.
“However, the departure of the UK from the European Union creates challenges for the sector that the Brexit Adjustment Fund can help offset. These supports should be targeted as follows:
- · Investment in competitiveness – recognising the additional trading costs now materialising post-Brexit, medium term measures to allow the Irish Government to introduce investment aids to support Irish food and drink companies invest in enabling technology, management training and upskilling, plant renewal and expansion, refinancing, market development and innovation to regain competitiveness following single market fracture.
· Improve export capability – Introduce a state supported export credit insurance scheme to ensure the growing gap in supply of export credit insurance does not impact on the ability of Irish firms to export. Many EU governments have already acted to support our competitors.
· Diversification and Innovation– Additional funding for direct grant supports for innovation, marketing and trade promotion for companies looking to build new markets in the EU and internationally. Ensure state agencies make full use of the new state aid guidelines to fund up to 50% of research and development projects which support future business growth.
· Direct connectivity to continental markets – Ensure sufficient accompanied roll on / roll off capacity for direct ferry routes to the continent.
· Customs skills – provide direct supports to cover the additional ongoing costs associated with developing and maintaining customs clearance capability. These supports will be required throughout the remainder of 2021.