FDI sets out claim to share of €1 billion Brexit adjustment fund for Ireland

Food Drink Ireland (FDI), the Ibec body representing the food and drink sector, has called for “targeted support measures” for its sector from the Brexit Adjustment Fund.

Yesterday (Tuesday, January 12), Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that Ireland was in line to receive over €1 billion of the total €5 billion provided by the EU in the Brexit Adjustment Fund.

Following on from that announcement, FDI director Paul Kelly said today that his 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 [sanitary and phytosanitary] 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,” Kelly argued.

He also referenced the Bord Bia Export Performance and Prospects Report, which was released today.

According to the FDI director, the report shows the “resilience” of Ireland’s food and drink sector despite the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues in 2020.

The Bord Bia report showed that the value of Ireland exports in 2020 declined by a relatively marginal 2%.

Despite that resilience, Kelly highlighted that the departure of the UK from the EU would create challenges that the adjustment fund could offset.

This, according to Kelly, included the need to invest in competitiveness in light of the increased costs of doing business with the UK, particularly investment in technology; management training; upskilling; plant renewal; expansion; refinancing; market development; and innovation.

He also highlighted the need to fund improvements in export capability, and he called on the government to introduce an 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”.

Other key areas that will require funding, according to Kelly, are:

  • Diversification and innovation – additional funding for direct grant supports for innovation, marketing and trade promotion;
  • 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.