The Revenue Commissioners are preparing for full customs checks involving officials from a number of Government departments in case no deal is reached on Brexit, a senior Revenue official has said.
Speaking at a conference on the impact of the UK leaving the EU on the agri-food sector, Carol-Ann O’Keeffe, an assistant principal at the Revenue’s corporate affairs and customs division, said Revenue was planning for no regulatory alignment from March 2019 in light of no deal being reached so far.
The worst-case post-Brexit scenario also involved economic goods being profiled and subjected to checks and most animal and “plant origin” products being subject to Border controls, she said.
She said that it was the customs barriers rather than the cost of tariffs that might cause the biggest disruption to agri-food businesses as they must submit customs declarations on imports and exports.
“It is a 54-box declaration with a lot of details in it,” she told a conference organised by the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce in Dublin.
UK land bridge
Ms O'Keeffe said she was hopeful that agreement could be reached so that goods destined for Ireland travelling through the so-called UK land bridge from Europe could pass through the UK unsealed.
There were plans to have as many import checks and controls carried out by Revenue on goods coming into the country moved away from ports and airports to allow them move “as free as they can”.
“What the UK does, we have no knowledge of,” she said.
In July, the Government agreed to hire 700 additional customs officials and 300 extra staff to carry out veterinary inspections on goods and agricultural products moving between the UK and Ireland.
Ms O’Keeffe said the Revenue’s status for authorised economic operator, or trusted trade status – thought to be a way of expediting cross-Border trade post-Brexit – was “of no benefit” to agri-food producers and suppliers as border inspections were required to check agricultural products.
She was “in two minds” about this status as it was “a costly exercise” and expensive to maintain. “You have to really do the analysis; is it really worthwhile to do it?” she asked