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Shippers focus on Supply Chain sharpens as Brexit nears by Howard Knott as published in Handling Network magazine – www.handling-network.com

As the countdown to the 29 March 2019 Brexit day accelerates the Irish Exporters Association (IEA) is in consultation with its membership both directly and also through hosting a series of regional group meetings and the now well-established IEA Supply Chain Event series, ramping up its training and knowledge dissemination activities.

As the countdown to the 29 March 2019 Brexit day accelerates the Irish Exporters Association (IEA) is in consultation with its membership both directly and also through hosting a series of regional group meetings and the now well-established IEA Supply Chain Event series, ramping up its training and knowledge dissemination activities.

The current IEA training programme includes short courses on Warehouse Strategy & Design, Customs Awareness, Incoterms 2010 and the Good Distribution Practice certification programme focussed on the Life Sciences area. An AEO, (Authorised Economic Operator), course has been developed that is specifically designed for companies who want to identify themselves as a “Trusted trader” and, in so doing, minimise the slowdown to their supply chain that could arise from Customs checks.

Speaking to a recent meeting, Paul Hearty of Revenue said that, at present there are 147 AEO certified companies in Ireland with a further twenty applications being processed.  Though these Irish numbers are low compared to other countries, the volume of Customs declarations for import where AEO’s are involved reached 74% in Ireland in 2017, matching the EU average. This indicates that the economic operators with higher volumes of trade do avail of the AEO programme. There is a set of simplified procedures that are available to firms with lower trading volumes and, while on Continental Europe almost all firms avail of these, the Irish volume remains low. On exports and the related documentation, the Irish figures are lower than the EU average, indicating that many companies export only with the current EU.

Speaking at the very well attended Supply Chain series event held in Cork on 28 September, Carol-Ann O’Keeffe, Assistant Principal Officer at Revenue’s Customs Policy Branch sought to underline the importance of traders achieving, if not the whole AEO, then the “Trusted Trader” accreditation. Revenue has set up facilities that will help firms that may not have had significant interaction with them up to now, to understand what is required to make their trading transactions as simple as possible. At the same event Jane Dempsey, Assistant Principal at the Brexit Unit at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine repeated the message delivered at previous events in this series that companies exporting and importing products that have some food or animal content do have a very specific set of issues when seeking to ensure the seamless flow of their goods through Ports and other Border Control facilities.  She again emphasised how careful traders and their carriers must be with the packaging of their goods and in the use of pallets that are in perfect condition and bear the certification stamp that they have been heat-treated.

The Cork event, like others in the series, has been sponsored by Rhenus Logistics, Ulster Bank and Iarnrod Eireann, with Fleet Transport/Handling Network supporting the series as media partner.

In his presentation Declan Sinnott, Managing Director of Rhenus Logistics Ireland sought to reassure the attendance that, for exports to Continental Europe from the Munster region, there are valid alternatives to shipment using the British landbridge. He demonstrated that in many instances use of container Lo-Lo services operating out of Cork, Waterford or Dublin ports can deliver product to the final consignee as quickly and much more economically than using landbridge. Captain Paul O’Regan, Chief Operations Officer at the Port of Cork also spoke about some options to landbridge mentioning the establishment in Spring 2018 of the twice weekly ferry service linking the Port of Cork with Santander in Spain and the weekly Grimaldi Line service linking Cork with Emden in Germany and Antwerp with the vessel sailing on to a number of Mediterranean Ports. He confirmed that the major Port development at Ringaskiddy is now underway with plans well advanced for enhanced road connectivity with the new port and industrial location.

The event was organised in conjunction with the Cork Chamber of Commerce and Katherine Fitzpatrick, International Services Manager at the Chamber spoke, not just about the further development potential for business in the Cork region, but also of the enhanced services that the Chamber can give members in the run-up to Brexit.