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Irish Firms Lack Expertise To Manage 'New UK Border'

by Jason Gorringe,, London

31 May 2017

Chartered Accountants Ireland has said that businesses in both the Republic and Northern Ireland are concerned about the implications of any reintroduction of tariffs post-Brexit.

Brian Keegan, Director of Public Policy and Tax at Chartered Accountants Ireland, told the Irish Parliament's Finance Committee that the introduction of customs controls between Ireland and the UK is now all but inevitable.

He noted that, providing there is no change to the UK Government following the June 8 election, Brexit will likely involve the UK's departure from the EU customs union, and said the Conservative manifesto "signals an intention to engage with the World Trade Organisation in fixing external tariffs post-Brexit."

Keegan explained that Chartered Accountants Ireland recently surveyed members in business, working both north and south of the border, on their preparedness for the possible reintroduction of tariffs between Ireland and the UK.

He said: "The businesses we spoke to were concerned about the higher prices which the reintroduction of tariffs will entail. By definition, tariffs are protectionist and the whole idea of a customs union is to protect the commercial interests of the union members at the expense of those outside it."

Keegan added that businesses were also worried about the administrative burden associated with the reintroduction of tariffs. He noted that many Irish businesses either lost or downgraded their customs expertise following the introduction of the single market in 1992.

"Businesses reported little clarity on how customs arrangements might operate following the termination of the Article 50 period. Relatively few understood that the enforcement of the border controls for the customs union, however implemented, needed to be separated from political promises of future trade agreements between the UK and the EU, and between the EU and the rest of the world," he said.

Keegan emphasized that Ireland will be "obliged to put in place a customs system with the UK which will preserve the integrity of the customs union." He said that for businesses trading with the UK, the challenge will be dealing with customs obligations for the first time – for them "this is tantamount to the introduction of a new tax."

TAGS: tax | business | free trade agreement (FTA) | value added tax (VAT) | Ireland | export duty | tariffs | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | trade treaty | United Kingdom | enforcement | agreements | import duty | trade | European Union (EU) | Europe

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