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Irish Exporters Association cautiously welcomes draft EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, but recognises uncertain road ahead

Dublin, 15th November 2018, The Irish Exporters Association (IEA) cautiously welcomes last night’s announcement by UK Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier of the draft agreement for an orderly withdrawal by the United Kingdom from the European Union.

On the announcement, Simon McKeever, Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Exporters Association commented:“We cautiously welcome last night’s announcement that a draft comprehensive and legally enforceable deal on the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship has been reached. This text is critical to ensuring a planned and agreed transition period in addition to providing businesses with crucial certainty and a sense of stability

The Irish exporting industry heavily relies on our strong and open trading relationship with the United Kingdom. The UK remains one of our largest trading partners, a key source of investment and provides a vital land bridge for Irish exports to the European continent. The proposed EU-UK Single Customs Area, as proposed by the Withdrawal Agreement, is a good deal for Ireland and the Irish economy.

We have always recognised that these negotiations would be extremely complicated with the discussion in the UK becoming increasingly contentious. Considering the strong political and parliamentary divide in the UK on the Withdrawal Agreement, and indeed Brexit, we recognise the UK Government’s extreme difficulties in ratifying the Agreement in the House of Commons. In light of this and the ongoing developments in the UK Government this morning, it is becoming increasingly uncertain whether Theresa May has the numbers to get this deal through Parliament.

While our members have already stepped up their Brexit preparedness and mitigation measures, it is our understanding that in some cases these measures will only mitigate the first 6 months of Brexit.  

Whilst we acknowledge the considerable work done by the Irish Government to date and the European Commission’s recent publication of a number of no-deal contingency plans, in light of  the developing political chaos in London we therefore call on the Irish Government and EU to step up their no-deal contingency planning to ensure the necessary supports are there for Irish Exporters and Importers in the event of a would-be crash-out Brexit.