Source: Oireachtas report useful but dated (1)

Source: Oireachtas report useful but dated (1)

Since we launched at the end of October last year, BBB has logged over 50 Irish works of substance on Brexit in our Reports & Analysis section. The latest 48-page offering from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation certainly has substance but we have a few quibbles. The first is on the length of its title – “The Likely Economic Impact of Brexit with Particular Emphasis on Jobs and Enterprise” – which is playing havoc with our spreadsheet. The second and rather more serious shortcoming is the time taken to publish it.

The report is the result of five hearings held between 18th October and 15th December last year. It is duly noted in editorial sections that much as changed since then. Indeed it has. The early chapters contain a long discussion on possible British membership of EEA/EFTA (which relies rather heavily on the House of Lords report we covered in November):  “It was widely agreed … that the EFTA/EEA model is the most desirable from an Irish point of view.” By the time of their final hearing Theresa May had already ruled out ‘bits of EU membership’, so all that discussion became academic at best or possibly a waste of everyone’s time.

The UK wants to have a Free Trade Agreement with the EU modelled on the CETA agreement  recently signed with Canada. The report usefully points out that CETA still has tariffs, especially in agri-food, and Canadian beef exports to the EU are subject to the full European regulatory regime.

It is commendably realistic about the default option, trading on the full set of World Trade Organisation tariffs, at least temporarily while some sort of Free Trade Agreement is worked out.  “If trade had to be conducted on WTO rules …. for even a number of years, it could have a devastating effect on businesses across the island.”

The whole WTO section relies heavily on the ESRI Working Paper 550 from November last year, but in our view its contents cannot be repeated too often as it remains the outstanding work on Brexit impact. The tariff list below does not represent the full extent of trading horror: raw milk, for example, has a rate of 54%. But the main point to remember is that almost 54% of our cross-border trade is in food and related products
Meat 49.35%
Cereals 45.71%
Sugars & confectionary 42.00%
Tobacco 38.14%
Processed meat & fish 33.31%
Dairy, eggs, honey 31.34%
Flours 26.92%
Processed veg & fruit20.86%
Food residues & animal feed 19.03%
Processed cereal15.11%
 Other edible preparations 14.44%
Cocoa & chocolate 11.79%