Food Drink Ireland Calls for New Policy Measures to Ensure Sector Meets Brexit Challenges

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16 Feb 2017 --- “Ireland’s largest indigenous sector faces substantial challenges in the years ahead in a world that has changed radically in 12 months” said Paul Kelly, Director Food Drink Industry Ireland (FDII), the Ibec group that represents the food and drink sector. He was speaking at the launch of the first FDII Business Monitor report yesterday (15th Feb). 

“On the international front, 2016 saw the risks from Brexit beginning to crystallise for Irish food and drink exporters. We witnessed a drop of €560m in UK exports, the formation of a new and uncertain global trade environment, and challenges to the integrity of the EU Single Market. At home in the domestic grocery market, declining consumer sentiment has given way to a decrease in sales relative to volume growth and this is putting further pressure on business costs.”

Mr Kelly called on Government to urgently implement a range of policy measures to ensure that the Irish agri-food sector remains innovative, competitive and capable of meeting these challenges, and to maximise the sectors ability to seek out new opportunities in existing and new markets. These measures include:

The re-introduction of the Employment Subsidy Scheme and the Enterprise Stabilisation measures which were last applied in 2009-11.

€25m to fund a market diversification and product innovation strategy, which focusses particularly on maintaining UK market share, increasing exports to other EU and international markets and investing more in product development.

A finance package that includes sustainable financing via funding from the Irish Strategic Investment Fund and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, state supported trade financing and improved State Aid rules to support the development of scale and the introduction of enabling technologies.

An intense and on-going focus on cost competitiveness led by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in areas such as labour, energy and insurance.

“With one in eight jobs in Ireland linked to the agri-food sector, it is essential that the Government act now to ensure the protection of these jobs and the future competitiveness of the industry. Failure to do so will result in the damage going far beyond the food and drinks industry in Ireland.”

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