• British Irish Chamber of Commerce urges UK-EU agreement to avoid reintroduction of technical barriers or tariffs
  • Hard Brexit could see UK trade fall by a fifth and result in 40,000 job losses, NSAI forum told
  • Irish Dairy Industries Association says Brexit ‘a clear and present danger’ to biggest native industry
  • NSAI Chief Executive says internationally-recognised standards can be a significant source of confidence for businesses in times of great change


A hard Brexit could result in a 20 per cent drop in the level of UK to Ireland trade, lead to 40,000 job losses and reduce Irish GDP by up to four per cent within a decade, according to the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.
 
The business group, which represents organisations on both sides of the Irish Sea, was among the keynote speakers at a special Brexit-themed forum hosted by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) this afternoon.
 
Paul Lynam, Head of Sectoral Policy at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce said any agreement reached by the European Union and the United Kingdom on the terms of its withdrawal should put standards front and centre. 
 
Mr Lynam said a failure to do so could result in long delays at all ports of entry, due to stricter requirements and increased paperwork.
 
“According to the OECD, crossing-the-border documentation and customs compliance requirements, lengthy administrative procedures and other delays can increase transaction costs by up to 24% of the value of traded goods,” said Mr Lynam, “In addition, in some countries, revenue losses from inefficient border procedures may exceed 5% of GDP.”  

“Harmonised standards have helped companies reduce costs, enhance efficiency, enter new markets and improve customer satisfaction,” he added.
 
“Working together with our friends throughout Europe and the UK we must ensure where possible that there is as little divergence as possible in UK, EU and international standards.”
 
Addressing the audience at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel, the group representing Irish milk processors also issued a stark warning about the potential impacts of a hard Brexit.  Over 800 million litres of milk criss-cross the Northern Ireland border every year, and fears are growing that the reintroduction of tariffs – or a change in standards – could hurt its members. 
 
“Standards are the rock on which the international reputation of Irish dairy and specialised nutrition products is built.  The Brexit vote has the potential to undermine this hard won reputation,” said Conor Mulvihill of the Irish Dairy Industries Association.
 
“The UK remains our biggest trading market, so the spectre of regulatory divergence after Brexit is a clear and present danger to our biggest native industry on this island.  A hard Brexit has the potential of tearing products that are dependant of common regulatory standards on both sides of the border in two,” he added.
 
NSAI Chief Executive Geraldine Larkin welcomed the call by the British Standards Institution to the UK Government to remain within the European Standards System of CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, even if the country leaves the Single Market and Customs Union. 
 
Ms Larkin said it would allow British experts to continue to contribute to the development of European standards, which set out good business practice and enable reciprocal market access across 34 countries. 
 
“It is NSAI’s firm belief that in times of great uncertainty, internationally-recognised standards can be a significant source of confidence for businesses.  Anything that can minimise any negative impact on our economy and provide certainty for organisations that trade with the UK should be warmly welcomed,” said Ms Larkin.
 
“NSAI has had the standards and technical knowledge to provide firms with services to ensure the company not only has a more cost-effective way of complying with regulations and standards, but also is better equipped to grow and innovate,” she added.
 
According to a survey conducted by NSAI last month, almost two-thirds of Irish organisations believe that a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would negatively impact their business.
 
With just under a month to go until Brexit negotiations are predicted to officially start; Irish businesses are split as to whether the UK’s exit from the European Union will affect how they operate. 



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