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The threats posed to Irish agribusiness by Brexit

07 May 2019

Ireland's food and agri business is likely to be the hardest hit by Brexit. Along with companies themselves, farmers will also be affected if they supply their produce across the border or to Britain.

We find that companies within the food and agri sector are crying out for advice on the practical issues that might affect their businesses from the likely tariff impact to how to move containers through customs.

For example, if you take a truck of bread being delivered from Enniskillen to Cavan, you will find that the potential WTO duty cost is a minimum of 9.7 per cent, but potentially over 40 per cent when you add in agricultural levies. Along with this, there is the cost of making an export declaration to HMRC and an import declaration to the Revenue Commisioners.

This is potentially another €100 in clearance costs to agents. You will then have to look at paying import VAT on arrival, which at present is accounted for in Vat returns. And while this is recoverable, it is a significant cashflow cost. Finally if there are any delays the load becomes unsaleable as it is a perishable item.

The issue is clear; that the risk for all companies is twofold in relation to Customs and Trade, ie, the risk of tariffs and the cost of compliance.

In relation to food and agri-products, there are the additional complications such as potential licensing requirements, border inspection posts and veterinary certs etc. Also, it is important to consider the fact that with perishable products, there simply cannot be any delays.

When we look at Ireland, we operate a unique all-Ireland economy for food products with goods crossing the "border" many times a day for processing and packaging etc. This will now be severely interrupted if or when Britain leaves the EU/single market/customs union.

We work with many Irish companies in this area, and find that the challenges faced by the food and agri business are unique. In this area, it is critical that your advisers and consultants understand the industry and requirements.

Our clients explain that along with the tariffs, their main concern is the ability to move goods seamlessly across borders. In planning for Brexit, all food and agri companies need to work with consultants with expertise in customs as well as tax. consulting and Vat.

Our unique service combines all these requirements into one package so we can cost effectively establish a new British company or branch for you, obtain Vat registration, calculate your potential customs liabilities and whether you will qualify for any Free Trade Agreement trade - and work to reduce your sustoms compliance costs as well as ensure minimal delays at the borders.

We also offer advice to support companies with obtaining the grants to cover or reduce the cost of these business changes.

As industry specialists, our food and agri team are uniquely positioned to offer a rounded service at a highly cost-effective price. In addition, there are times, such as now, when you simply have to obtain the specialist advice necessary, for example in Customs, in order to ensure you are positioned to survive and grow post-Brexit.

Many companies are yet to review their supply chain to identify current business relationships that might be negatively impacted by Brexit. Examining the supply chain is vital to reducing the potential negative impact of brexit on a business and alleviating costs associated. It is the first move a business should make when examining the potential impact, and the frist step to attaining a competitive asvantage regarding Brexit. This is where our food and agri team start when we work with companies in becoming Brexit-ready.

We also find that assessing the supply chain and developing a plan means that companies are more reasured that they can manage the challenges going forward, and can potentially position themselves to obtain competitive advantage.