Return of customs controls between Ireland and UK is now all but inevitable, warns Chartered Accountants Ireland at Cork Brexit briefing

Sinead Corcoran RDJ, Declan O'Connell Declan O'Connell and CO and Mary O'Sullivan AIB At a Breakfast Briefing with Brian Keegan. Pic: Gerard McCarthy

Chartered Accountants Ireland has warned that the introduction of customs controls between Ireland and the UK as a result of Brexit is now almost inevitable, and that Irish businesses and consumers in every part of the country will feel the effects. Speaking at a meeting of Cork Chartered Accountants,  Brian Keegan, director of Public Policy and Taxation at the Institute also pointed out the difficulties which many smaller Irish exporters and importers will face for the first time. 


“The Single Market and the Customs Union have been operational since 1 January 1993, and most of us now take these benefits for granted. All of us, citizens and businesses alike have forgotten about the constraints of tariffs and Customs obligations between this country and the UK; indeed many of our citizens have never known them. The returns of tariffs and customs will have extremely important consequences for businesses.


“Chartered Accountants Ireland recently surveyed members in business, including those operating in Cork, to gauge their readiness for the reintroduction of tariffs between Ireland and the UK. The businesses we spoke to were concerned about the higher prices which the reintroduction of tariffs will entail. But we also found that Irish business was concerned about other aspects of the reintroduction of tariffs – their paperwork, their payment and their policing. Businesses reported little clarity on how customs arrangements might operate following the termination of the Article 50 period.


“Many businesses in Ireland lost or downgraded their customs expertise post 1992 on the introduction of the Single Market. There were suggestions that delays in clearing customs could for practical purposes eliminate cross-border trade between the North and the South.


“Every effort should be made to sustain the advantages of a Common Transit Area. This would enable goods to be shipped from Ireland to Mainland Europe via the UK without customs penalties. The real challenge for Ireland will be to facilitate Customs administration for the many businesses exclusively importing from or exporting to the UK which have to deal with Customs obligations for the first time. For them, this is tantamount to the introduction of a new tax.”


Brian Keegan was speaking at a Breakfast Briefing for the Chartered Accountants Cork District Society event today in the Clayton Hotel, Lapps Quay.