McConalogue reiterates call for agri-businesses to take action on Brexit

We’re now just around five weeks out from the end of the year, when the Brexit transition period comes to an end.

Big changes in how we trade with the UK are on the horizon, regardless of the outcome of ongoing EU-UK trade deal talks.

On Wednesday this week (November 25), the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine hosted the 16th consultative committee of stakeholders on Brexit.

Minister McConalogue was apparently unable to attend due to Dáil business, but yesterday morning reiterated the message that all agri-food businesses should “immediately take the practical steps necessary to prepare for the changes that Brexit will bring from January 1”, notwithstanding the outcome of trade deal talks.

“In five weeks, the UK will be outside the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union. From January 1, 2021, customs and regulatory requirements will apply to businesses that trade with and through Britain and these will result in additional delays and costs compared with trade today,” the minister stressed.

“Businesses need to be ready for this new reality and engage with my department so that they are as prepared as possible for January 1,” he added.

During Wednesday’s stakeholder meeting, representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs gave an update on the current state of play in the EU-UK negotiations, while the Revenue Commissioners provided an update on Economic Operators’ Registration and Identification (EORI) registrations and authorisations, including in relation to the need for financial guarantees for transits on the landbridge.

After the meeting, Minister McConalogue expressed concern that “a significant number of companies” across the agri-food and beverage sector have not taken steps to register with Revenue for an EORI number, stressing that these companies will “not be able to trade with Britain in five weeks’ time”.

The stakeholders heard from Department of Agriculture officials who provided an update in relation to readiness work that has been completed and also on ongoing work, particularly in the area of communications to help businesses prepare.

Stakeholders were again urged to ask their members who trade with Britain (and are the operators responsible for consignments) to register with the department so that they will receive relevant information directly and can get access to the department’s new import and export IT platforms, as well as the EU’s Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES).

“With just five weeks until the end of the transition period, time is very short and action is required urgently. This requires planning and investment – It is not something that can be left to the last minute,” Minister McConalogue warned.

He also encouraged businesses to watch a series of webinars on Brexit preparedness, which are available on the department website.