The new scheme aims to provide affordable financing to Irish businesses impacted by Brexit with at least 40% of the fund being put aside for food and drinks businesses.
“In the context of Brexit, we also have particular concerns about the potential negative impact of regulatory divergence and trade border controls,” stated ABFI Director Patricia Callan, “Currently the drinks industry operates on an integrated all-island basis. For example, often malted barley might be produced in one jurisdiction and transported to another or beer might be produced in one jurisdiction and transported to another for bottling and canning. These supply chains apply to both agricultural raw materials and packaging but also to the transport of finished alcohol product in duty suspension. As such, it’s vital that seamless cross-border supply chains can be maintained.”
She also pointed out that as Geographic Protectors cover the whole of the island of Ireland, it would be important that Northern Ireland remains fully aligned with the EU in regard to regulatory issues.
ABFI again warned that the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill in its current form would make the drinks industry even more vulnerable during Brexit negotiations and in the aftermath.
“While on one hand the Government is looking to safeguard the drinks industry with measures like the Brexit Loan Scheme, on the other hand it is pushing through the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which in its current form could undercut the effectiveness of any safeguarding measures being put in place.
“The industry is particularly concerned about the labelling and advertising proposals. The evidence shows that the labelling proposals will make it difficult to introduce new products to the Irish market and will put Ireland at a regulatory divergence from everywhere else in the EU.
“While the drinks industry supports the objectives of the Alcohol Bill – which are to tackle harmful drinking and underage drinking – any measure introduced should be rooted in evidence and should not unfairly impact an important Irish industry, especially as it deals with Brexit turmoil. We believe there is scope for reasonable amendments to the legislation and are calling on the Government to balance the bill.”