Drinks Ireland has released a seven-point policy priority plan to safeguard the Irish drinks industry as it weathers the COVID-19 crisis.
The seven points of the plan from the Ibec Group, which represents drinks manufacturers, brand owners and distributors on the island of Ireland, are as follows:
Allow Drinks Producers To Continue Manufacturing
Drinks Ireland says that producers should be allowed to continue to operate, as is currently the case, in accordance with relevant protocols, and that the industry should be well-positioned to bounce-back and return to full export value in a very short period, to the benefit of the Irish economy, if it is allowed to continue operating in a scaled-back manner.
Support Exports By Putting Boots On The Ground
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Drinks Ireland believes that supporting brands to recover and regain market position and share should be a key priority for government, and that Irish drinks exporters should be supported in rebooting brand marketing and activation in key markets. The group said that central to this should be an ambitious programme of support - of up to 70% - to allow companies to directly and exclusively employ graduate brand ambassadors in key markets for at least 12 months.
Road Map For The Reopening Of The Hospitality Sector
Drinks Ireland is urging policymakers to establish a sectoral working group, which includes representatives from Drinks Ireland and all parts of the hospitality sector, to jointly agree a coherent road map for the reopening of the hospitality sector.
Support Domestic Tourism When Visitor Centres Reopen
Drinks Ireland projects a loss of 70%-80% of visitors to Irish drinks visitor attractions in 2020, with further significant declines expected in 2021 depending on the length of time it takes for international travel and tourism to recover. The group said that, consequently, proactive support and promotion will be required to drive domestic tourism when these attractions do re-open.
Urgent Cash-flow Supports
Drinks Ireland has called for swift action to assist businesses with their cash-flow, including the deferral of all further excise and VAT payments until the crisis has passed, the cancellation of the commercial rate charge for the period of the pandemic, and a guarantee that the current wage subsidy will not be subject to a tax review by Revenue at the end of the year.
Allow For Direct Online Selling To Support The Craft Sector
Drinks Ireland believes that allowing craft producers to sell directly online to the Irish consumer, without minimum volume requirements, would support the sector and would also align Ireland with the majority of other European countries.
Deliver Mutual Tariff Relief
Drinks Ireland is calling on the Irish government to actively propose that the EU seeks to expedite a reciprocal agreement with the US on the elimination of all tariffs applied as a result of recent disputes, as part of a mutually beneficial stimulus response to the COVID-19 economic crisis.
Drinks Ireland director Patricia Callan stated, "The drinks industry, like many other sectors in Ireland's economy, has been severely impacted by COVID-19. From the on-trade closing, to exports slowing and visitor centres closing, revenue streams are under severe pressure, and it is vital that a range of supports and measures are put in place to support jobs and to allow the sector to continue delivering for the Irish economy.
"The sector is comprised of many small and craft producers, supporting local economies in towns and villages around Ireland, but also large businesses that deliver huge exports and exchequer returns for the country, and who have valuable expertise from operations in export markets to help support the safe re-opening of the hospitality sector here.
"Our industry remains committed to support the national effort to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, which it is doing in many different ways, including through producing sanitising products and making donations to support unemployed bar workers and charities working with more vulnerable groups in our society."
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