COVID-19 update from Irish Ambassadors abroad
The Irish Exporters Association (IEA) in association withRhenus Logistics Ireland, Iarnród Éireann – Irish Rail and media partner Fleet Transport Magazine, has brought the COVID-19 experiences of Irish Ambassadors around the world to the fore. The IEA held webinars with the Ambassador of Ireland to China, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Sweden and the US and intend to run further webinars with Ambassadors in the weeks ahead. Irish businesses export to and have bases in all parts of the globe and it is imperative that they understand the situation in different countries and supports that may be available. Each country has responded in varying degrees to the crisis, but all with the one premise, to contain the virus and protect lives. The Ambassadors also gave an insight into how the Embassies and staff have adapted to the respective restrictions and day to day life in the different countries.
On April 1st, the Irish Ambassador to Italy took part in a webinar and went through the economic impact that the crisis is having on Italy and on the Italian Government’s work to keep trade moving. On the specific economic relationship between Ireland and Italy, the Ambassador commented that “chemicals, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment make up approximately 75% of Irish exports to Italy. Trade in these goods is not impeded by the restrictions in place in Italy.”
The Irish Ambassador to Germany and the Irish Ambassador to France and Monaco went through the situation and approach in both EU countries during a webinar on 9th April. The Ambassador to France, commented that “8 million people are now working remotely in France. All Irish State Agencies and the Embassy are open and ensuring our continuity of service to Irish citizens and companies.” The French Ambassador also went through actions taken by the French Government, including approving “derogations to employment law to allow for Sunday working and for a working time of up to 60 hours in certain sectors. These measures are brought in for logistics and haulage workers to keep the food supply chain functioning.”
“Germany is a key trading partner for Ireland. It is our 3rd largest export market, worth approximately €39 billion. The trade balance is currently in Ireland’s favour, standing at 60 – 40%” commented the Irish Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany. The Ambassador also remarked on the actions taken by the German Government to ease the economic impact of the crisis. The Ambassador stated that the response “centred on loans to larger companies and subsidies to smaller companies and the self-employed. A 600 billion economic stabilisation fund has been launched. Reduced hours compensation, unlimited liquidity aid for the SME sector, tax measures and a rapid loan schemes are some other measures brought in.”