UK only re­al­is­tic mar­ket for trees

Irish Independent - Farming - - FI­NANCE -

THE Ir­ish tim­ber in­dus­try has to make it­self Brexit proof as di­ver­si­fy­ing into mar­kets other than the UK is not a re­al­is­tic op­tion.

Coillte CEO Fer­gal Leamy told Com­mis­sioner Phil Ho­gan and del­e­gates at the re­cent Tim­ber In­dus­try Brexit Fo­rum in Dublin that since Ireland ex­ports al­most 80pc of its out­put to the UK and isn’t suited to other mar­kets, it’s im­por­tant that Ireland ap­proaches Brexit in a so­lu­tion-based man­ner. “We have 40,000 truck move­ments be­tween Ireland and the UK each year and in the con­text of Brexit that’s very im­por­tant.

“It’s not a case of piv­ot­ing to­wards other mar­kets be­cause the prod­uct we pro­duce is ideally suited to­wards UK and Ir­ish mar­kets and the po­ten­tial for mar­kets out­side UK and Ireland is very lim­ited. Most of the risk is yet to come in terms of trad­ing dif­fi­cul­ties that we might see in the next while if we don’t ad­dress this in a pos­i­tive frame of mind,” he said.

Mr Leamy added that Ir­ish forestry pro­vides more jobs than Face­book, PayPal and Linkedin com­bined in Ireland and that it’s im­por­tant that th­ese jobs are pro­tected as it is ru­ral­based em­ploy­ment.

Mem­bers of the fo­rum pre­sented Com­mis­sioner Ho­gan with a num­ber of rec­om­men­da­tions to help pro­tect the tim­ber in­dus­try.

Some of the rec­om­men­da­tions in­cluded send­ing Ir­ish of­fi­cials to Nor­way and Sweden to see how their cross-bor­der trade works and al­low­ing for in­ter­change­able cus­toms of­fi­cials.

John Mur­ray of Mur­ray Tim­ber Group wel­comed the rec­om­men­da­tions as he said he is “ex­tremely wor­ried” that Brexit will bring about mar­ket fail­ure as seen in 2008 when the con­struc­tion crash in Ireland col­lapsed the tim­ber mar­ket here.

“We wouldn’t like to see that sit­u­a­tion again where we had gen­uine mar­ket fail­ure... It is ex­tremely wor­ry­ing. We have great con­cerns as we’re wholly de­pen­dent on UK ac­cess. I do think the ob­sta­cles will be over­come though,” he said.

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