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Irish Exporters Association (IEA) have today welcomed news that Irish and EU officials have developed a draft proposal that would give Irish food exports access to "green lanes" when they come off ferries traveling from British to continental ports.

The Association is cautiously welcoming the news due to the fact that the proposal still needs the approval of EU Member States and UK negotiators would have to agree to the terms during the course of the ongoing talks on a free trade agreement - talks that have not yielded substantial progress to date.

The IEA will closely follow the progression of this proposal and hopes that the outcome will indeed somewhat limit the impact of the UK’s withdrawal on the Irish agri-food sector.

Chief Executive Simon McKeever commented: “Trade between the EU and the UK will be different from 1 January 2021, irrespective of whether or not a trade deal is agreed between both parties, and businesses need to know that.

We welcome measures that limit the impact of the new trading environment on Irish agri-food exporters, particularly given that the smooth transit of Irish exports via the landbridge to the continent is of crucial importance.

The introduction of green lanes for certain products during the pandemic has proved to be largely successful. We would hope that this proposal allows for the similar fast tracking of Irish food and live animal exports destined for the single market via the UK.

We wait to see the details of the proposal, particularly clarity on whether or not the proposal completely removes transit barriers to the continent, more information on any digital paperwork required, and if there is a guarantee that no delays will occur at UK ports. These are questions that exporters need answers to.

Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen the opening up of direct shipping routes from Ireland to the continent. This development will in time limit the degree of reliance on the use of the landbridge by Irish supply chain operators and is an important point for Irish exporters to factor in when consulting their Brexit preparedness plans.”

Published in Ferry

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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