Exporters criticise handling of figures


EXPORTERS are highly critical of the handling of trade since the introduction of Single Market which ended the routine customs border checks. They want a more simplified system.

The Irish Exporters Association (IEA) has called on the Government to improve its own systems so that trade figures emerge within a maximum time frame of three months. It will be pushing for a simplified procedure in Luxembourg next month when the operation of the new system is assessed. Recommendations from Ireland will include the abolition of the dual reporting requirement, a raising of the reporting threshold to get smaller companies out of the net, and a reduction in the detail of reporting, much of which, the association says, is not even analysed.

A survey carried out by the exporters showed a failure to provide accurate and timely statistics, unnecessary duplication and the cost to exporters of complying with the INTRASTAT system which was designed by the European Commission to measure trade flows within the European Union.

Only 6 per cent of exporters receive or perceive any value from compliance with the new requirements. Most of the companies said it is of use only to Government planners and state agencies rather than to industry.

The average cost of compliance was £8,800 in the first year and £4,390 per annum thereafter, according to the IEA. It has argued that it is difficult to understand why the cost and burden of collecting and reporting the information should fall on the private sector.

Exporters are obliged to provide their figures within 10 days, but there are no targets or deadline for Government", which produces provisional estimates six months in arrears. Mr Colum MacDonnell, chief executive, of the IEA, asked how the Government has a comprehensive view of the impact of sterling movements if they are working with figures which are six months out of date"? In contrast, he added, failure to comply is sanctioned heavily with fines in the courts.