Monday 22 July 2019

Humphreys sets out aims in new role as Border questions remain


Business Minister Heather Humphreys
Business Minister Heather Humphreys
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

New Business Minister Heather Humphreys has said her priorities will be regional jobs, dealing with Brexit and increasing FDI.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD replaced Frances Fitzgerald after she resigned.

"It is critically important that we see the potential for entrepreneurship, innovation and business growth realised in each and every part of Ireland," Humphreys said.

The Department recently got approval from European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager for a €10m scheme for SMEs hit by Brexit. The scheme will see Enterprise Ireland take equity stakes in struggling businesses.

"These smaller companies employ a lot of people and this scheme should help them preserve jobs without unduly distorting competition," Vestager said.

Areas where Humphreys is likely to face calls for change from businesses include the tax treatment of the self-employed and the differences between the UK entrepreneur's tax relief scheme and the Irish scheme.

The UK scheme is far more generous - meaning it is seen as an incentive for Irish entrepreneurs to move abroad.

Humphreys said she would start meeting businesses in the coming weeks to assess the impact of the Brexit vote.

Despite the deal on the Border concluded between EU and UK negotiators last week, experts at PwC believe there will be an electronic border even if there is no physical infrastructure.

"We would expect a type of electronic border with technological solutions to be put in place with a strong focus being placed on the internal controls of importers/exporters, something which has been referred to as 'trusted trader status' or Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) which is an existing customs concept," PwC Ireland director for trade and customs John O'Loughlin said.

"We would be of the strong view that Irish-based companies need to take account of the practical issues of trading across international borders. There may still be a need to lodge customs declarations and manage other administrative and compliance matters, all of which will carry additional cost to business," he added.

"Furthermore, with much focus on North-South trade, many Irish businesses trade with mainland UK and/or use the UK as a 'land-bridge' to access other EU and non-EU markets. The application of customs duties and delays at the port should continue to be a high Brexit risk."

Sunday Indo Business

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