“The Seanad Report confirms that post-Brexit trade with the UK could decline by up to 20% and as many as 40,000 jobs could be lost,” stated ABFI Director Patricia Callan, commenting on the publication of the Seanad Report, “We already know that tourist numbers from the UK have dropped by 7% so it’s clear we need to reduce our costs. The case to reduce excise duties has never been stronger. Ireland has the second-highest excise tax on alcohol overall in the EU and has the most expensive alcohol in the EU at 175% of the EU average. This impacts tourism, penalises consumers and restricts the sector’s economic contribution.
“I’m delighted to see our proposal that the government challenges EU state aid rules was referenced in the Seanad Report to promote future trade with the UK and other new markets as current rules impose restraints on government support for Irish companies – restraints that will become all the more evident when the likes of Scotch whiskey are not subject to such rules.
“Drinks companies currently have over €1.1 billion in exports each year and it’s essential that this is protected and indeed developed further. The Seanad Report also highlighted the importance of a pre-clearance model for goods whereby trucks and drivers can cross the border without incurring duties or checks. This is vital for many of our members who have all-Ireland supply chains.
“The Report identifies Brexit as one of the largest competitiveness shocks that the Irish agri-food industry has faced,” she pointed out, “ The drinks industry is an Irish success story employing over 200,000 people around the country and supporting 12,000 farm families. The combination of Brexit and the unintended economic consequences of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will only serve to exacerbate pressure on the sector. Now is not the time to impose ineffective regulation and additional costs on drinks companies,” she concluded.