The timber industry sees a copy of checks on the Canadian-US and Norwegian-Swedish borders as part of preparations for a possible hard Brexit to minimise its impact on Irish-British and cross-border trade. Source: The Irish Times
Concerned that the UK will crash out of the European Union in March 2019 without a deal, the industry made the observations in a new report aimed at preparing Ireland for the worst post-Brexit.
The industry supports 12,000 jobs and relies on unrestricted trade north and south of the Border and between the UK and the Republic. It has already felt the pinch from Brexit as the fall in the value of sterling is costing the industry an estimated €40 million to €50 million a year.
Among the measures highlighted by the Timber Industry Brexit Forum that includes semi-State forestry firm Coillte are practices in use on the Norwegian-Swedish border such as interchangeable customs officials, mutual trust and training of border officials, and mutual recognition of customs officials and police.
The forum has taken the most effective practices used at the Scandinavian and North American borders to map out measures to reduce the cost of trade in wood products between the Republic and the UK in the report called Brexit: Protecting Growth in the Irish Timber Industry.
“We see elements of these models, together with other smart solutions, as providing the basis for a bespoke model for UKEU trade which would minimise the impact of Brexit on the Irish timber industry and indeed across many industries in Ireland,” Fergal Leamy, chief executive of Coillte said.
Other solutions include agreeing matching regulations between the EU and the UK on low-risk products and adopting the best international technological practices on number-plate recognition and data collection as well as a mutually recognisable single database for trades.
The industry wants the EU and the UK to agree advanced authorisation mechanisms at the busiest Irish border crossings and British and Irish ports, and to introduce a fast-track program similar to one in place under a free-trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico for regular cross-border travellers.