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IIFA Members discuss BREXIT at National Seminar

L to R, Fionn Uibh Eachach, Director VAT – KPMG Ireland, Frankie Devlin, Partner – KPMG Northern Ireland, Tom Thornton, IIFA President, Deirdre Clune – MEP Ireland/ Member of the Transport Committee – European Parliament and Guest Moderator Anton Savage.

Not pictured, John McGrane, Director General, British Irish Chamber

On Tuesday 21st February 2017, over 120 Business Leaders from across Ireland’s Freight, Logistics and Distribution industries assembled to discuss BREXIT and its potential impact on their industry.

At a seminar organised by Irish International Freight Association (IIFA), Tom Thornton (President, IIFA) updated the Audience on the Associations activates in preparing for BREXIT. In addition to working with Government Departments as a recognised Stake-Holder group, IIFA’s key initiative has been its decision to join CLECAT, the European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services, based in Brussels, Belgium. CLECAT represents the interests of more than 19,000 companies employing in excess of 1,000,000 staff in Logistics, Freight Forwarding and Customs Services. Multinational, medium and small Freight Forwarders and Customs agents are all within its Membership, making the organisation the most representative of its kind. Through this Membership, IIFA will have an avenue to voice Ireland’s specific industry concerns with a key advocacy within Brussels.

The speaker panel which included Deirdre Clune, MEP – Ireland’s representative on the EU Transport Committee, John McGrane, Director General, British-Irish Chamber of Commerce, Frankie Devlin, Partner and Fionn Uibh Eachach, Director VAT, KMPG Ireland. These Speakers collectively provided an insight into continental Europe’s reactions to and feelings towards BREXIT, reports on developments since the Referendum in June 2016, plus details on the tax implications arising from potential BREXIT scenarios based on existing Trade Agreements within the European Union.

The final hour of this seminar took a workshop approach through which the assembled Business Leaders were asked to collectively address 6 key questions, with a Guest Moderator (Anton Savage) facilitate fielding answers to the questions from a selection of tables. The first of these questions took the form of a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) and then looked forward to appropriate responses to the anticipated effects of BREXIT from Government perspectives and questioning any areas which may be absent from popular/ mainstream BREXIT dialogue within Ireland.

One key item arising from the Group discussion was recognition that Customs Clearance administration will almost certainly increase once the UK leaves the EU. Whatever form a border will or will not take, it will be necessary to process Customs declarations and appropriate documentation as required. IIFA has been proactive in this area and will later this year launch a Customs Clearance and Practical SAD Competition course in order to provide its Members with the necessary skillset to handle the new requirements of a post-BREXIT Ireland.

While there are a number of suggested avenues to pursue, based on the feedback from this seminar, IIFA would prioritise the following courses of action:

  • Seek recognition from European Union that Ireland is in a unique position and that this situation will be a factor when Negotiations begin.
  • Government to analyse present infrastructure surrounding Ports and Airports. This to include consultation with Trade and Private Transport providers regarding extra capacity Vessels/ Aircraft if deemed necessary.
  • Begin training Revenue staff and Trade in the areas of Customs Clearance.

The workshop session was of vital importance in that the assembled industry Representatives were given the opportunity to volunteer key opinions and concerns for the Freight, Logistics and Transport industries surrounding BREXIT. The aim of this session was for IIFA to collate this information in order to present same to Irish MEPs and relevant Government departments. With an Audience made up of Owner Managers and Senior Level Executives from leading Multi-National companies based in Ireland and all involved in arranging the International Carriage of Goods across International Borders, the information sourced on the day offered insightful information on the real issues facing Ireland as the one EU Member that will be greatest effected by BREXIT, a vote the Country had no participation in. Attendees also included such company Representatives from the North of Ireland and related services such as Shipping Lines, Customs Brokers, Financial Services and relevant Irish Government Department Representatives.

“BREXIT is the most important and significant issue to happen to Ireland this century,” stated IIFA President Tom Thornton with his closing remarks. With an event that will impact all industries across this Island economy, IIFA will continue to work collaboratively with Government to provide the insight and information that is needed in order to ensure the best possible outcome for Ireland when BREXIT negotiations begin. Tom Thornton also praised the Government for their proactive approach on BREXIT and engagement with trade through various Country wide stakeholder engagements.

Read more in: IIFAMembers
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