Food exports could face tariffs of over 50pc, Bord Bia warns
Irish food exports are facing significant tariffs of up to 53pc if there is a hard Brexit, Bord Bia has warned.
Padraig Brennan, director of markets with Bord Bia, said some companies had inserted break-out clauses into contracts over the past few months. "There is a realisation that there could be a potential need to review contracts."
But there is no evidence the UK is stockpiling Irish food in preparation for the possibility of a hard Brexit.
Mr Brennan told an Oireachtas committee there is no suggestion of any significant level of stockpiling of food in the UK. "We would not expect a major level of it in the next while."
World Trade Organisation tariffs, which would be imposed in the event of a hard Brexit, could see Irish beef exports hit with rates of a 12.8pc tariff and a €3,000/tonne duty. More than 50pc of Irish cheddar cheese currently goes to the UK and it faces a €1,700/tonne duty, while lamb exports face a 12.8pc tariff plus a €1,700/tonne duty in the case of a hard Brexit.
"They would have a serious and significant impact on supplying the UK," he said.
He also said 73pc of Irish companies had made changes to their operations as they face Brexit, with 85pc looking to expand into new markets.
Short shelf-life products, he said, along with a complex supply chain, were key issues for Irish exports heavily dependent on the UK as an export market.
While he said that Bord Bia was helping companies to identify and target other countries, he admitted that developing new markets could take "a lot of time".
Irish food and drink exports, he said, had to compete with other EU suppliers and had to win on their credentials.
"It does require for us to be really targeted and be stronger with our credentials. We have sold Ireland as a clean, green and natural reputation. But we need to quantify those claims and provide more facts and figures to back those claims up. Grass-fed is one of our key strengths."
Mr Brennan also said Bord Bia's Brexit workshops were oversubscribed, which was a "good indication of how tuned in the emphasis is on getting ready for Brexit".