Insights from British Irish Chamber & Ulster Bank - Brexit Proofing the Agri-Food Sector


The British Irish Chamber of Commerce called for enhanced measures to Brexit-proof Ireland's agri-food sector in Budget 2019 as it hosted the '#AGENDA2018 Business, Politics and Brexit' seminar organised in association with Ulster Bank and KPMG in Dublin on Wednesday, September 5th. Here are some of the insights from the seminar:

Make sure to check the Business Achievers Events Calendar for more upcoming business events this month.

UK-Ireland Agri-Food trade under the spotlight 

The fifth in its series, the #AGENDA2018 seminar was an opportunity for business leaders, policy makers and representative organisations in the agri-food sector to discuss the impact of Brexit on the industry. Panellists from leading exporters and the large agri-food ecosystem also outlined how they can forge a shared future for both sectors across the Irish Sea.

Competitiveness of the Agri-Food Sector Key 

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD provided the keynote address. Minister Creed outlined the efforts the Government will aim to take in Budget 2019 to enhance the competitiveness of the agri-food sector in Ireland.

This was followed by a speech by the CEO of Greencore Patrick Coveney who stressed the importance of protecting trade links with Ireland's most important market for agri-food products.

Mr Coveney remarked that "The growth and development of the food sectors on both sides of the Irish Sea has been strongly intertwined over many generations. Today's integrated supply chain is a direct result of our shared history. With large Irish food businesses operating in the UK and numerous UK retailers in Ireland, it is our mutual interest to ensure cooperation continues into the future - irrespective of the outcome of Brexit negotiations."

Dr Ailish Byrne, Ulster Bank's Head of Agriculture spoke to the audience during the first panel about her discussions with farmers concerning Brexit and its impact on their continued growth. Ailish advised that as an issue it was not immediately front of mind with poor weather conditions and the negative impact on feed supplies during winter being the main cause for concern. Ailish's closing remarks regarding the impact of Brexit on the sector was that beef, sheep and tillage farmers would need to focus on improving market returns due to the highly likely reduction in CAP payments with a UK withdrawal from Europe.

Speaking at the event, Maree Gallagher, Chair of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce Agri-Food Committee and Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP said:

"The agri-food sector is Ireland's largest indigenous industry employing around 250,000 people enabling €10.8bn in exports a year. Despite Ireland being the biggest source of the UK's food imports in relation to beef and dairy, agri-food trade between across the Irish Sea is not one-way traffic. Ireland imports in the region of €4bn per annum of agri-food products from the UK.

With uncertainty now surrounding those links, the Government must urgently enhance the competitiveness of Ireland's agri-food offering. The introduction of a carbon tax on the sector in Budget 2019 would only further undermine the capacity of Irish agri-food companies to prepare for Brexit and to diversify their trading links. Steps should instead be taken to provide state supports to all business exposed to the UK market and increase funding to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). Through these measures we can ensure the agri-food sector is robust enough to withstand the impact of Brexit."

Anyone interested in watching the event can access a recording of the stream on Business Achievers.



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Monday, 09 December 2019
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

Member Login

Business Insights & Tips


Jill Holtz
2343 Points
Tena Glaser
1395 Points
Michael Lane
802 Points
Ron Immink
732 Points
Fionan Murray
721 Points
View Leaderboard