The repercussions of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union are still of “critical importance” and the Government must work to protect €90 billion worth of annual trade between the UK and the Republic, the British Irish Chamber of Commerce has said.
In a pre-budget submission, the chamber has, among other things, called on the Government to set up a contingency fund to support Irish businesses that rely on the all-Ireland supply chain from the potential fallout of the impending Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.
Paul Lynam, director of policy at the British-Irish chamber, said that with UK-Ireland trade growing back towards pre-Brexit levels, the contingency fund could provide “much-needed stability” for businesses.
“This vital trade link will be disproportionately impacted should the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill be implemented,” he said.
It also wants to see the establishment of what it calls a “shared islands fund”, modelled on the existing Shared Island Fund, “to foster collaborative initiatives between Ireland and the UK”. Announced as part of budget 2021, the Shared Island Fund ringfenced €500 million in capital funding until 2025 for collaborative North-South projects.
Additionally, the British-Irish chamber said the Government should review economic ties with the North and set up a regional partnership programme to act as a counterweight to the Dublin-London corridor.
It has also called on the Government to set up an office of tax reform, similar to the UK’s office for tax simplification.
“While the chamber is as concerned as the Government when it comes to energy security and inflation, the repercussions of Brexit remain of critical importance,” Mr Lynam said. “This is why, it is firmly the view of the chamber and our members, who represent a comprehensive range of sectors, that Ireland now needs targeted supports to achieve recovery and growth.”