Unfortunately, customs duties on food and agri products can be extremely high, and these products are also often subject to additional CAP rates.
As a first step, all importers therefore need to check what these rates might be. Similarly, the UK may apply customs duties on EU or ROI imports. We do not know what these rates may be but, at worst, they may be the equivalent of EU rates. Therefore, scenario planning needs to be carried out to determine the potential best and worst-case scenarios.
One of the major issues with Brexit so far has been Britain's attempts to negotiate the terms of a free-trade agreement. If such an agreement is concluded, then it is likely there will be no customs duties on originating products traded between the UK and EU (ROI).
This is however dependant on the goods being traded qualifying as "originating".
There are very strict rules for determining origin status which involve firstly determining the tariff classification of the finished product, secondly determining the status of the inputs, and finally calculating whether there is sufficient added value to meet the origin determination. In other cases there are specific rules required, such as that all meat must be produced from EU livestock.
This is a complex area but needs to be taken into account in determining whether you will qualify for a FTA.
In order to obtain the FTA rate, you will also need to issue documentation (EUR1s/Invoice Declarations) to prove to customs that your goods do qualify for the rate.
Imports of food products into the EU are subject to very tight food safety and border controls. Food of animal origin may require veterinary checks and certificates and need to be presented at approved Border Inspection Posts (BIPS) and food of non-animal origin will require certain veterinary certs.
In addition, food importers may require to be registered with the Department of Agriculture, provide advance notice of importation and meet other packaging and labelling laws.
Finally, in some cases, imports are only allowed from approved establishments. This can slow down the process of clearance and can add additional costs - a problem for perishable products in particular.
The UK position in this regard is not yet known, but should be made clearer in the coming weeks.
With regards to food legislation, there are strict EU controls on food labelling and standards which imports from the UK will now need to comply with.
I recommend obtaining specialist advice from a food lawyer in this area. There are resources available to support businesses with their Brexit preparations; including several Brexit funding options such as the Brexit Loan Scheme, the Enterprise Ireland Be Prepared Grant, Bord Bia's training and preparation programmes. It cannot be emphasised strongly enough that businesses need to consider every element of Brexit including border delays, supply chains, contracts and price changes.
If you are involved in importing or exporting food, agricultural products or livestock, you need to start preparing for the impact of Brexit as a matter of urgency. As this is an extremely complicated area, we recommend obtaining specialist support.
In addition, I would strongly recommend contacting Bord Bia who run a number of Brexit support and training workshops both in customs and other areas such as supply chain and currency which will all be impacted by Brexit.
We are now close to the wire with a high risk of a no deal Brexit happening by default. Therefore, it's become vital that businesses continue to prepare for Brexit or immediately start if they have not done so.
Carol Lynch (partner) BDO Customs and International Trade Services department