Brexit Data

Ceisteanna (163)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

163. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number and value of loans approved under the Brexit loan scheme since its roll-out; the number and value of loans issued under the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29026/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme provides relatively short-term working capital for terms of 1 to 3 years, to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees to help them innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges. Businesses can confirm their eligibility with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and, if deemed eligible, can apply to one of the participating finance providers for a loan under the scheme.

According to the latest data available, as at close of business on the 28 June, there were 663 eligibility applications received by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, of which 598 have been deemed eligible. Of these 598 eligible applicants, 145 have progressed to sanction with their banks. The value of the sanctioned loans from banks at 28 June was €31.65 million. While data on actual funding received by applicants as of 28 June is not available, we know that there is a high conversion from sanctioned loans to drawdown, as SBCI data for the end of March 2019 indicates that 88% of the total value of loans sanctioned by banks had been drawn down by businesses.

In addition to the Brexit Loan Scheme, my Department, together with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Finance and with the support of the European Investment Bank guarantee, has developed the Future Growth Loan Scheme.

This scheme makes up to €300 million of loans available with a term of 8-10 years and is open to eligible Irish businesses and the primary agriculture and seafood sectors to support strategic long-term investment. Finance provided under the scheme is competitively priced and has favourable terms, for example no security required for loans up to €500,000. The scheme opened for eligibility applications on 17th April, and since then the SBCI has received 365 eligibility applications and issued 340 eligibility letters.

With Brexit on the horizon, the availability of both the Brexit Loan Scheme and Future Growth Loan Scheme means that qualifying Irish businesses will have access to low cost capital without delay and forms part of the support for Irish business to cope with potential Brexit challenges.

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (164)

John Lahart

Ceist:

164. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the availability of bike parking spaces and lockers in all buildings used by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28689/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Accommodation for my Department and our Offices is provided by the Office of Public Works (OPW) in buildings which are either State owned or leased by OPW on our behalf. The Department are the sole tenants in two of the buildings below namely Earlsfort Centre and 59 Dawson St. and all other buildings are shared.

The following table provides details of dedicated bike spaces and lockers in all buildings used by our Department and Offices. All locations do offer space where bikes could be parked however in two locations space is not dedicated for bikes only. As part of the office environment work space a lockable pedestal is provided.

Location

Office

Dedicated Bike space

Lockers

23 Kildare Street, Dublin 2

Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Yes

Yes

Earlsfort Centre, Earlsfort Terrace Hatch St.

Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Yes

Yes

59 Dawson Street

Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Yes

Yes

Bloom House, Gloucester St., Dublin 1

Companies Registration Office & The Registry of Friendly Societies

Yes

No

Lansdowne House, Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4

Labour Court Workplace Relations Commission

Yes

Yes

Parnell Square, Dublin 1

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

Yes

No

Lower Hebron Road, Kilkenny

Patents Office

Yes

No

O’Brien Road, Carlow

Companies Registration Office & The Registry of Friendly Societies Workplace Relations Commission

Yes

Yes

Eastpark Business Campus, Shannon

Workplace Relations Commission

Yes

No

Finisklin Business Park, Sligo

Workplace Relations Commission

No

No

Centre Park House, Cork

Workplace Relations Commission

No

No

Ministerial Transport

Ceisteanna (165)

John Lahart

Ceist:

165. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the model of the car or cars used by her in the performance of her official duties; and if it is a diesel, petrol or electric engine. [28705/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The car I use in the performance of my official duties is my own private car.

Economic Competitiveness

Ceisteanna (166)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

166. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the actions she will take to meet the competitiveness deficiencies and increased cost of doing business across several sectors and metrics as outlined in the National Competitiveness Council report Cost of Doing Business in Ireland 2019; the immediate actions she will take in areas for which she has a policy remit; the meetings she has had with ministerial colleagues and State agencies under her remit since the report was published regarding actions to be taken; and if further studies will be commissioned by her on competitiveness weaknesses. [28996/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Ireland is a competitive economy, as reflected in a range of economic metrics, such as: high economic growth; the strong performance of the labour market across sectors and regions; strong trade figures; and, our strong overall productivity levels.

The National Competitiveness Council (NCC) plays an important institutional role ensuring that the Government has an independent voice raising important competitiveness and productivity issues.

Under the Council’s Terms of Reference, it is required to prepare two annual reports:

- An annual report benchmarking the competitiveness of Ireland’s business sector against international peer countries; and,

- An annual report outlining the main competitiveness challenges facing the business sector in Ireland over the medium term, and the policy responses required to meet them.

Alongside these reports, they also produce a Cost of Doing Business report, a Productivity Statement, and a series of shorter competitiveness bulletins.

As the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I am responsible for presenting the findings of the NCC’s competitiveness documents (the Cost of Doing Business Report, the Competitiveness Scorecard, and the Competitiveness Challenge) to the Taoiseach and the Government.

In the Cost of Doing Business report, the NCC does not recommend actions to the Government. Instead, the NCC uses this report (and the other reports that it publishes throughout the year) as an evidence base to make recommendations for Government action in the NCC’s final publication of the year, the Competitiveness Challenge.

Given the central role that the NCC plays in informing competitiveness and productivity policy, in Future Jobs 2019, this Government has committed to responding to the NCC’s annual priority recommendations to enhance Ireland’s productivity and competitiveness performance.

Moreover, through Future Jobs Ireland, this Government has proposed concrete and ambitious actions to enhance our productivity and competitiveness and will ensure that we are well positioned to adapt to transformational changes the economy will face in the years ahead. Indeed, one of the five pillars of Future Jobs Ireland is improving SME productivity. Increasing productivity is the only long-term sustainable way of increasing the standard of living for our people.

As a small open economy, we must never underestimate the importance of maintaining competitiveness, and ensuring that the cost of doing business does not impede this. In this regard, Future Jobs Ireland is an integral component of the Government’s over-arching plan for the future of the Irish economy.

Economic Competitiveness

Ceisteanna (167)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

167. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she met the Minister for Finance and his officials to discuss the National Competitiveness Council report Cost of Doing Business in Ireland 2019 since it was published; if so, the actions agreed arising from the meeting that will be taken to tackle the competitiveness deficiencies and increased cost of doing business across several sectors and metrics in the report; if she had meetings with the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council in this regard in relation to issues identified in the report. [28997/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Ireland is a competitive economy, as reflected in a range of economic metrics, such as: high economic growth; the strong performance of the labour market across sectors and regions; strong trade figures; and, our overall strong productivity levels.

The National Competitiveness Council (NCC) plays an important institutional role ensuring that the Government has an independent voice raising important competitiveness and productivity issues.

Under the Council’s Terms of Reference, it is required to prepare two annual reports:

- An annual report benchmarking the competitiveness of Ireland’s business sector against international peer countries; and,

- An annual report outlining the main competitiveness challenges facing the business sector in Ireland over the medium term, and the policy responses required to meet them.

Alongside these reports, they also produce a Cost of Doing Business report, a Productivity Statement, and a series of shorter competitiveness bulletins.

As the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I am responsible for presenting the findings of the NCC’s competitiveness documents (the Cost of Doing Business Report, the Competitiveness Scorecard, and the Competitiveness Challenge) to the Taoiseach and the Government.

In the Cost of Doing Business report, the NCC does not recommend actions to the Government. Instead, the NCC uses this report (and the other reports that it publishes throughout the year) as an evidence base to make recommendations for Government action in the NCC’s final publication of the year, the Competitiveness Challenge.

The Department of Finance is represented in an advisory capacity on the NCC and both my officials and I regularly discuss competitiveness issues with the Minister for Finance and his officials including through the Cabinet Committee structure.

As a small open economy, we must never underestimate the importance of maintaining competitiveness, and ensuring that the cost of doing business does not impede this. In this regard, Future Jobs Ireland is an integral component of the Government’s over-arching plan for the future of the Irish economy. Given the central role that the NCC plays in informing competitiveness and productivity policy, in Future Jobs 2019, this Government has committed to responding to the NCC’s annual priority recommendations to enhance Ireland’s productivity and competitiveness performance.

Skills Shortages

Ceisteanna (168)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

168. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she has a long-term plan to deal with skills shortages in various sectors; and the timeframe to implement recommendations by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. [28999/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department works in collaboration with the Department of Education and Skills to ensure that the education and training system is producing the right talent pool to ensure the success of enterprise in Ireland.

In particular, my Department provides research and secretarial support to the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN). The EGFSN plays a key role in identifying and advising the Government on current and future skills needs, through the undertaking of research, analysis and horizon scanning on current and emerging skills requirements at thematic and sectoral levels. Recently completed and ongoing work being undertaken by the EGFSN includes analyses of skills needs or implications relating to the food and drink sector, design, high level ICT, Brexit/trade related skills needs, and digitalisation.

As part of the National Skills Architecture, the EGFSN presents its findings to the National Skills Council, which includes representation from the chief skills stakeholders within the Irish economy, including my Department.

Together with additional skills and labour market intelligence provided by the Regional Skills Fora, Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in SOLAS, and employment permit trends, the Council works to enhance the response of the education and training system to the provision and delivery of those skills. In considering the recommendations of the EGFSN, the Government and relevant stakeholders are guided by the timeframes advised by the Group in its individual reports.

This National Skills Architecture, underpinned by robust analysis and data collection on skills needs, ensures an education and training system that can be responsive and flexible in meeting the evolving skills needs of the economy, especially under the impact of continuing technological change.

The research of the EGFSN and SLRMU also informs my Department’s Economic Migration Policy Unit, which holds responsibility for the employment permits system and manages the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List and Ineligible Categories List.

The employment permits regime is designed to facilitate the entry of appropriately skilled non-EEA migrants to fill areas of identified skills shortage. This objective is balanced by the need to ensure that there are no suitably qualified Irish/EEA nationals available to undertake the work, and the shortage is a genuine one. The rationale underpinning inclusion or omission from the occupations list is augmented by a consultation process that includes calls for submissions.

The analysis of the EGFSN, and other work by my Department, have been reflected in the overarching longer term strategies for the education and training system published in recent years. These include Technology Skills 2022, Ireland’s National Skills Strategy 2025, and the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019, including its associated annual implementation and successor plans, all of which have been developed by the Department of Education and Skills.

The EGFSN’s analysis has continued to inform the development of my own Department’s policies and strategies, such as Enterprise 2025 and the Action Plan for Jobs. More recently, EGFSN’s analysis has informed Future Jobs Ireland - a key pillars of which is enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent. This pillar is underpinned by a number of ambitions such as the provision of high quality and timely education and training responses to evolving enterprise and skills needs; encouraging lifelong learning and upskilling; and fostering participation in apprenticeship and traineeship programmes.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (169)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

169. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the capital spend to date in 2019; the capital carry-over from 2018, by subhead; the provision under each subhead including the capital carry-over from 2018 provided for in the Revised Estimates Volume for 2019; the details of the significant overspends or underspends under each subhead; the action that will be taken to deal with same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29000/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Capital allocation to my Department in 2019 is €620 million. This represents an increase of 11.7% on our 2018 allocation of €555 million. The total Capital allocation monies expended by the Department at the end of May was €201.68 million. This is some €16 million (7%) behind profile. In addition the Department carried over €27.6 million in capital from 2018, of this carry-over, €24.8 million was expended to the end of May, this is €1 million behind profile. The breakdown of the capital allocations and the end of May expenditure position, by subhead, is set out in the following table.

Subhead

2019 REV AllocationCAPITAL(€,000)

Expenditure to end May 2019CAPITAL(€,000)

Variance from Profile + Ahead of Profile - Behind Profile(€,000)

A4 - Intertrade Ireland

6,695

3,867

+116

A5 - IDA Ireland*

162,800*

44,500*

0

A6 - NSAI

500

0

-50

A7 - Enterprise Ireland

65,750

13,200

-11,800

A8 - Local Enterprise Development

27,500

13,600

0

A9 - Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme

500

176

-64

A10 - INTERREG Enterprise Development

3,000

1,758

-268

A14 – Future Growth loan Scheme

6,000

1,269

-4,731

A15 – Humanitarian Relief Scheme

1

0

-1

B4 – Enterprise Ireland

122,000

33,415

0

B4 – Science Foundation Ireland**

179,550**

80,984**

0

B4 – Tyndall Institute

5,500

1,045

0

B5 – Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions

24,300

20,320

0

B6 – Subscriptions to International Organisations

23,504

12,348

-210

B9 – Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

20,000

0

0

Total***

647,600***

226,482***

-17,008

*Includes Capital Carryover from 2018 of €20.8m

**Includes Capital Carryover from 2018 of €6.8m

***Includes Capital Carryover from 2018 of €27.6 million

As advised, capital expenditure, including carryover, was a total of €17 million behind profile as at the end of May. This is essentially due to a number of instances where there has been a delay in the roll out of certain programmes and also other instances where greater than anticipated amounts of Own Resource Income have been generated by a number of Agencies of the Department, thereby substituting the need for exchequer funding.

Notwithstanding the advised end of May capital expenditure position, I am satisfied that the Department will fully expend its capital allocation, as I am conscious of the importance of our capital programmes in getting business Brexit ready, driving indigenous enterprise and regional growth, getting business Brexit ready and investing in research and innovation.

IDA Ireland Site Visits

Ceisteanna (170)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

170. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of IDA site visits by county in each quarter of 2019 to date; the percentage of visits in each county as a percentage of the number of visits nationally in 2019, by county in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29001/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

IDA Ireland hosted 159 site visits as of the first quarter of 2019, with almost 65% of these visits taking place in regional locations. Information on site visits for the second quarter of 2019 will be made available by mid-July.

Whilst site visits are an important tool in helping showcase regional locations to investors, it is important to remember - as I have made clear before - that the final decision as to where to invest rests solely with the company concerned. It is also the case that site visit activity does not necessarily reflect investment potential, as a significant proportion of all new foreign direct investment comes from existing IDA clients already present in the country.

More broadly, creating more jobs in the regions will remain a top priority for both the IDA and my Department as we seek to build on the progress made over the last number of years. In 2018, for example, the IDA delivered 113 regional investments with 56% of net new jobs created outside Dublin. The Agency's mid-year results for 2019 have also reflected a number of significant investments for regional locations. Since the IDA’s current five-year strategy was launched in 2015 there have been 455 investments secured for the regions. This is a testament to the focus IDA Ireland has placed on regional development and the whole of government action to enhance our regional offering.

The following table details the number of IDA site visits to each county in quarter 1 of 2019 and the percentage of visits in each county as a percentage of the number of visits nationally.   

County  

Q1 2019  

% of total site visits in Q1 2019  

Carlow

3

1.9%

Cavan

1

0.6%

Clare

5

3.1%

Cork  

17

10.7%

Donegal  

1

0.6%

Dublin

56

35%

Galway  

9

5.6%

Kerry

0

0%

Kildare

3

1.9%

Kilkenny

5

3.1%

Laois

2

1.2%

Leitrim  

0

0%

Limerick

12

7.5%

Longford

0

0%

Louth  

10

6.3%

Mayo  

2

1.2%

Meath  

1

0.6%

Monaghan

1

0.6%

Offaly

1

0.6%

Roscommon

0

0%

Sligo  

8

5%

Tipperary

3

1.9%

Waterford

8

5%

Westmeath

6

3.8%

Wexford

1

0.6%

Wicklow

4

2.5%

Total

159

100%

Skills Shortages

Ceisteanna (171)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

171. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the timeline for implementation of all recommendations in the report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs on Addressing the Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Trade Implications of Brexit. [29002/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) is an independent body tasked with advising the Government on the current and future skills needs of the Irish economy, as well as any other issues that impact on the national potential for enterprise and employment growth.

In June of last year the Group published its report "Addressing the Skills Needs Arising from the Potential Trade Implications of Brexit", which was an important contribution to the evidence base on Brexit and the Government's wider contingency planning.

Following the report's publication my Department formally engaged with the responsible bodies identified in the report, including a number of Government Departments, agencies, and industry bodies, to action and formally progress its recommendations- the timelines for which, as per the advice offered by the EGFSN, were both short term and longer term in nature.

This engagement has taken the form of a "Brexit Skills Implementation Oversight Group", which is chaired by my Department, and which continues to meet to monitor the implementation of these recommendations and maintain a watching brief on Brexit related skills issues more generally.

For those recommendations that were shorter term or immediate priorities- around Brexit awareness raising and skills needs identification, customs training, financial management training and the attraction of skilled personnel from overseas- these have been reflected in the work the Government has undertaken to ensure the enterprise base can respond to Brexit through enhancing its capacity to compete, innovate and trade. As far as those actions related to my Department are concerned, this has been reflected in:

- The participation of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and its enterprise agencies in the Government's national Brexit preparedness public information and awareness campaign, "Getting Ireland Brexit Ready".

- My Department's establishment of a dedicated "Getting Business Brexit Ready" web portal, which includes sections on advice and guidance, financial supports, and upskilling, and is linked to by my Department's Brexit social media campaign.

- Enterprise Ireland's national and regional communications campaign urging companies to prepare for Brexit through planning, innovating, competing and diversifying their trade, which complements its promotion of the Brexit Scorecard, Be Prepared Grant, Brexit Advisory Clinics, and Act on Support programme.

- The awareness raising and outreach, as well as Brexit supports, offered by InterTradeIreland and the Local Enterprise Office network, including the Brexit Planning Online Guide, Start to Plan and Brexit Implementation Vouchers, the Brexit mentor programme, as well as Brexit related conferences, workshops and targeted radio and social media advertising campaigns.

- My Department's engagement with the Revenue Commissioners in the roll out of its Trader Engagement programme, the support for customs training and advice offered under InterTradeIreland's Start to Plan voucher, the launch of Enterprise Ireland's Customs Insights and InterTradeIreland's Customs Virtual Learning Environment courses, and the roll out of the Local Enterprise Office "Prepare Your Business for Customs" workshops.

- The publication by my Department of the Currency Risk Management for Irish SMEs guide, and support for financial and currency management advice and training under Enterprise Ireland's Act On programme, InterTradeIreland's Start to Plan voucher, and Enterprise Ireland's Management Development training provision.

- My Department's contribution towards the roll out of Global Footprint 2025, which will work to raise Ireland's profile internationally, including as a place to live, do business, and invest; the implementation of the Government's Diaspora policy, Global Irish;and the implementation of the recommendations of the Review of Economic Migration Policy, published in September 2018, which will ensure the policies governing the employment permit system are fully supportive of Ireland's emerging labour market needs.

More generally, my Department and its enterprise agencies have continued to engage with the National Skills Architecture overseen by the Department of Education and Skills, to ensure that those trade and logistics related skills needs identified in the report, and amongst client companies, are serviced by education and training provision across further education and training, higher education and Skillnet Ireland training networks.

The report also highlighted longer term objectives in its recommendations, directed towards tackling any structural issues and building up the skills base that will support the continued success of the Irish economy in the post-Brexit trading environment.

These include the successful implementation of the Government's ten year languages strategy, Languages Connect, the enhancement of intercultural skills, in particular through the boosting of international graduate mobility opportunities and an increase in Irish participation in the Erasmus+ programme, as set out in the International Education Strategy; and an increase in the pool of product or service design and development skills, key differentiators in international markets, through the successful implementation of Innovation 2020, the STEM Education Policy Statement, 2017-2026 and Technology Skills 2022.

A key longer term recommendation was for the establishment of a Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group, to be composed of logistics and supply chain industry stakeholders and education and training representatives, which would work to support the promotion of careers, skills development and sustainable development in logistics and supply chain activities.

Officials from my Department have worked closely with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport- which will chair this group- and logistics and supply chain stakeholders, on its establishment, and its is anticipated that a work programme will be agreed upon and the group formally established in the coming months.

Through cross industry collaboration the group will work to improve the profile of logistics and supply chain roles, making it easier to recruit talent; make progression pathways available to those entering or already working in the roles; ensure development opportunities are available to provide the skills, knowledge, and competencies required; enhance employee retention; and provide a forum for ongoing communication and leadership by logistics and supply chain stakeholders in addressing the skills needs of these activities in Ireland.

IDA Ireland Data

Ceisteanna (172)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

172. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 295 of 18 December 2018, the most recent data by category (details supplied) to the end of quarter 2 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29003/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The availability of marketable serviced land and buildings in advance of demand is a key element in the IDA's ability to compete for mobile foreign direct investment. Not only does such a supply of properties help the Agency to secure high quality jobs but it also allows projects to begin at an earlier date by diminishing difficulties associated with land acquisition, planning and construction. It therefore remains an important means by which the IDA can encourage and attract new investors to Ireland, particularly to the regions.

The tables in the following link list all IDA Ireland land available for marketing (Table A) and occupied IDA Ireland properties (Table B) as at the end of Quarter 2 of 2019. 

Data

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (173)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

173. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of prepare your business for customs’ initial workshops that have taken place to 30 June 2019; the approximate number of persons and businesses that have taken part; and the customs awareness and higher level customs clearance training and advice for third country trading in place for SMEs by county, in tabular form. [29004/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

A range of supports is in place to assist SMEs to address the challenges and indeed opportunities arising as a result of Brexit. The suite of supports and funding programmes available are primarily focused on enhancing innovation and competitiveness, export market diversification and information and awareness.

In relation to customs preparations, the “Prepare your business for customs” one-day interactive workshop is run regionally by the Local Enterprise Offices. These customs workshops educate business on the potential impacts, formalities and procedures you will need to adopt when trading with a country which is outside the Single Market and Custom Unions (a ‘Third Country’). They are open to businesses from all sectors. These workshops cover areas such as export and import procedures, tariffs and how to correctly classify goods in that regard.

The following Table refers to the customs workshops that have taken place up to the 30th June 2019.

County

No of Participants

Meath

53

Cavan

25

Cork City

22

Dublin

79

Loais

12

Donegal

60

Monaghan

32

Westmeath

26

Wexford

14

Offaly

9

Mayo & Roscommon

13

Mayo

13

Wicklow

39

Limerick & Clare

12

Longford

11

Kildare

13

Leitrim

15

Carlow

11

Kerry

19

Sligo

6

Galway

16

Louth

17

Kilkenny

14

Total

531

Enterprise Ireland also run an online Customs Insights course which helps businesses understand the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to move goods from, to and through the UK. The course provides learners with a firm understanding of the customs implications for their business and the options from Revenue to make this process more efficient.

To date there has been 1,269 participants on the Customs Insights Course.

The Brexit: Act On programme has been developed to focus on three main areas of capability:

- Financial and Currency Management

- Strategic Sourcing

- Customs and Logistics

Delivered over the course of two half day sessions with an independent consultant, the initiative assists companies in deciding on specific actions over a short period to address some of the risks and opportunities from Brexit. To date 266 Act On Plans have been completed nationally.

The Government will continue to monitor and introduce if necessary any further measures to address capacity or other issues in the field of customs operations and processes.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (174)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

174. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will report on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement; the offensive and defensive interests for businesses and SMEs here in the deal; the details of market access and removal of import tariffs or duties by sector; and the timeline for same. [29005/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Negotiations for a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Vietnam were concluded in December 2015. After the process of “legal scrubbing” and the preparation of the legal texts in the various languages was completed, the EU and Vietnam signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) along with the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) on 30th June last.

The FTA will unlock a market with significant potential for Irish and EU firms and includes the elimination of nearly all tariffs (over 99%) on EU exports to Vietnam. Widespread coverage is achieved at entry into force, with 65% of EU exports to Vietnam coming in duty-free from day one. Tariffs on our remaining trade – with the exception of a few products – will be fully liberalised after 10 years. These sensitive items are not offensive export interests for Ireland. The EU will liberalise 71% of its imports from Vietnam from day-one and 99% will enter duty-free after seven years. The EU-Vietnam FTA provides for the full dismantling of nearly all tariffs except for a few tariff lines that are subject to duty-free Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs). The gradual elimination of custom duties on these sensitive products will allow domestic producers to gradually adapt. Consumers from both sides will benefit from lower prices and exporters from strengthened competitiveness.

Sectoral opportunities include almost all EU exports of machinery and appliances which will be fully liberalised at entry into force of the FTA. Around half of EU pharmaceutical exports will be duty-free immediately and the rest after seven years. Close to 70% of EU chemicals exports will be duty free at entry into force and the rest after three, five and seven years respectively. In addition, Vietnam will also simplify requirements for marketing authorisation of pharmaceutical products and medical devices, which in turn will reduce delays and costs for these important Irish exports.

The FTA also improves market access by addressing non-tariff barriers to trade and other trade related issues such as public procurement, competition, services, investment, intellectual property rights, regulatory issues, and sustainable development. The benefits and opportunities to business in the Agreement will be especially valuable for SMEs, given that trade barriers tend to disproportionately burden smaller firms, which have fewer resources to overcome them than larger firms.

In 2018, Ireland’s goods exports to Vietnam amounted to €65 million. Ireland’s main exports to Vietnam include medical and pharmaceutical products valued at €18.6m in 2018. Ireland's food exports to Vietnam have grown considerably in recent years. While meat and dairy products are the largest share of this, beverages and seafood also contributed strongly. In 2017 (the most recent year with available figures), services exports from Ireland to Vietnam were valued at €164m.

Through the Government’s Trade Strategy, ‘Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World’, we aim by 2020 to increase indigenous exports by Enterprise Ireland supported companies, including food, to reach €26 billion and secure 900 new foreign direct investments. As part of the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 strategy, Enterprise Ireland will open a new office in Ho Chi Minh City this year to support Irish businesses to expand into the Vietnamese market and to take advantage of the new opportunities presented by the FTA.

Opportunities exist for Ireland to grow exports in dairy products, pork, seafood and alcoholic beverages by taking advantage of reduced tariffs under the FTA. Currently tariffs on EU exports of spirits to Vietnam are particularly high at 48% and will be eliminated over a 7-year period following entry into force of the FTA. The elimination of tariffs of 15% on frozen pork products is also significant for Irish producers.

Ireland is an exceptionally open economy and is dependent on international trade and investment as sources of growth. Building new export opportunities for our businesses forms a vital part of Ireland’s enterprise strategy. We favour ambitious and balanced trade agreements, negotiated by the EU Commission on our behalf, which are designed to deliver jobs and growth for the benefit of our citizens. The EU-Vietnam FTA and the EU’s other trade agreements help to open new markets, break down barriers and provide new opportunities for Irish firms.

In a wider context, Vietnam is a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The EU is working towards achieving a region-to-region FTA with ASEAN by first concluding FTAs with individual ASEAN members. The first of these was signed with Singapore in October 2018, the Vietnam FTA is the second, and negotiations for an FTA with Indonesia, the largest county in the ASEAN group, are ongoing.

The text of the EU-Vietnam Agreement, including tariff schedules, has been published can be accessed at:

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/vietnam/.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (175)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

175. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will report on the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement; the offensive and defensive interests for businesses and SMEs here in the deal; the market access and removal of import and export tariffs or duties by sector; the timeline for same; and if an impact assessment has been commissioned to date in relation to the deal. [29006/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Common Commercial Policy, including trade, is an exclusive competence of the European Union under the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. The European Commission acts as lead negotiator on behalf of all EU countries regarding trade agreements with non-EU countries. Member States (in Council) approve negotiating directives (or mandates) before negotiations begin, are consulted as the negotiations proceed and have final approval at Council as has the European Parliament.

The EU-Mercosur Agreement will see a comprehensive liberalisation of trade in goods. Mercosur will fully liberalise 91% of its imports from the EU over a transition period of 10 years with longer liberalisation of up to 15 years for some more sensitive products. The EU, in turn, will liberalise 92% of its imports from Mercosur over a transition period of up to 10 years. Tariff lines will also be liberalised with Mercosur liberalising 91% of its lines and the 95% in the EU.

Full details, including the line-by-line tariff breakdown of these sectors and the import/export tariff rates are not available at this time.  My officials await further detail from the Commission in this regard.

Ireland’s key offensive sectors within Mercosur are dairy, particularly cheese, powdered milk and infant formula with Mercosur agreeing to large tariff rate quotas of 30,000, 10,000 and 5,000 tonnes. Ireland also has offensive interests in the pharmaceutical, machinery, and chemical sector. For each of these sectors, liberalisation takes place for over 90% of EU exports.

The Agreement also sees the opening up of Mercosur’s public procurement market. Mercosur’s procurement market has up until this agreement not been available to EU firms. The Agreement, therefore, provides Irish SMEs with substantial opportunities. It will make it easier for our firms to bid for and win valuable Government contracts in the four Mercosur countries. The EU and Mercosur have agreed to apply modern disciplines based on the principles of non-discrimination, transparency, and fairness.

Furthermore, the Agreement also includes 335 Geographical Indicators (GIs) of EU origin. Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream are included in this list. The acceptance of EU GIs will significantly improve protection of these products from false or misleading branding in Mercosur markets. 

Ireland’s defensive interests are generally well known and understood at EU level. Access to the EU beef market has always been a particular sensitivity for Ireland and a number of other EU Member States. While it is disappointing that the agreement reached on beef access is more than we would have wished, it is far less than the Mercosur block originally sought. The deal that has been agreed provides necessary reassurances on food safety – i.e. that the EU will not accept any lesser standard in respect of the additional quota of 99,000 tonnes.  It also ensures an extended lead-in period (over six years) before full tariff reduction levels are reached. 

The EU-Mercosur Agreement also has a special chapter on SMEs. SMEs will benefit most from the simplification of exporting and customs procedures – as the savings are proportionately greater for them. A dedicated website will provide information on the Agreement for SMEs, practical guidance to importing and exporting will be published, and a dedicated data base on tariff reductions will be made available. The simplification of regulations on standards will help with trade barriers encountered by SMEs.

In relation to the Deputy’s question on an impact assessment, my Department commissioned by open tender, a study of Free Trade Agreements, more than 12 months ago.  Copenhagen Economics were awarded this contract as an internationally renowned trade modelling firm. The study covered a wide range of recent and prospective EU trade agreements, including that with Mercosur. The preliminary findings, which was grounded in the information available at the time, suggest a doubling of annual goods and services exports to Mercosur over the 10 years to 2030.

In light of the conclusion of the negotiations last Friday, my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine will now ensure that a comprehensive, independent economic assessment is carried out specifically on the finalised EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement. This assessment will consider the impact the Agreement will have on the Irish economy and on jobs as well as the environmental implications of the deal. It will also consider how the EU-Mercosur Agreement might exacerbate/mitigate the likely impact of Brexit for our economy.  This assessment will help to inform our future actions in relation to EU-Mercosur agreement.

Small and Medium Enterprises

Ceisteanna (176)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

176. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the most recent Central Bank research published (details supplied) regarding a vulnerability analysis of SME credit exposures here; and the supports and advice available for SMEs. [29007/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I note the findings of the Central Bank vulnerability analysis of Irish SME credit exposures,  in particular, the improvement in the condition of the aggregate performing SME portfolio overall. I also note that high vulnerability exposures are not concentrated in any particular region or regions, that borrowers in the Accommodation and Food and Wholesale and Retail sectors account for over half of high vulnerability balances and that term loans and overdraft facilities make up over ninety per cent of high vulnerability balances.

My Department and its agencies have put in place extensive supports, schemes and advisory resources to assist businesses at all stages of development and across all sectors. The suite of finance supports have been developed to address market failures including cost of finance, need for collateral, availability of loans for microenterprises, and availability of loans with terms of longer than 7 years.

These supports include schemes such as the Brexit Loan Scheme, the Future Growth Loan Scheme,  the Credit Guarantee Scheme and the provision of loans through Microfinance Ireland, all designed to ensure that SMEs have access to affordable and appropriate finance when required.  My Department also supports alternative sources of finance for SMEs such as through the Seed and Venture Capital Scheme, the fifth programme of which (2019-2024) launched late last year.

An important support is the Credit Review Office, which was established to help all Small Medium Enterprises or Farm borrowers who have had an application for credit of up to €3m declined or reduced, and who feel that they have a viable business proposition.  The Office also looks at cases where borrowers feel that the terms and conditions of their existing loan, or a new loan offer, are unfairly onerous or have been unreasonably changed to their detriment.  

Most recently my Department has produced an Overview of Government Supports for Indigenous Business. This sets out in detail the Government supports available to develop and build capacity in indigenous enterprises across Ireland, delivered through a network of bodies with a wide reach into urban and rural localities. In addition to supports for start-ups and developing businesses, the report sets out supports that incentivise research, development and innovation, supports for regional businesses and supports that address informational, technical and skills gaps in SME businesses.  This report is available at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Overview-of-Government-Supports-for-Indigenous-Business.html

I recognise that Brexit is a significant issue for all firms and to this end, the Overview of Government Supports for Indigenous Business also highlights the networks, structures and supports that have been put in place for indigenous local businesses in identifying key risk areas and in facilitating the practical actions to be taken in response to the UK's exit from the EU.

Regarding specifically the issues surrounding Brexit, the Quick Brexit Guide for Business is  also available on my Department’s website at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/EU-Internal-Market/Brexit/Getting-Brexit-Ready/ seeks to answer many of the questions that Irish businesses may have when assessing their exposure to Brexit and determining the best course of action to mitigate their likely Brexit-related difficulties. It provides information on the practical steps you can take to deal with issues including: Customs, tariffs and duties, currency, imports, certification, working capital, and financing.

My Department has also published a number of other information guides to raise awareness of supports and finance related issues among SMEs. These are available on my Department’s website at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Overview-of-Government-Supports-for-Indigenous-Business.html and include a guide on ‘Government working with finance providers to support SME financing’ which sets out the types of equity and debt financing supports and resources available to business at all stages of the business cycle. The ‘Currency Risk Management for Irish SMEs’  guide seeks to answer questions that SMEs may have when assessing and managing their exposure to foreign currency risk and features a directory of support services and providers that are available in the market.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (177, 178)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

177. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the likely procedure at EU and member state level for ratification of a final Mercosur trade agreement relating to market access, quotas and the elements that fall under exclusive EU level competence and areas that require national level approval; if she or her ministerial colleagues have carried out assessments to date on the scenario; and if Dáil Éireann will have to ratify elements of a final Mercosur agreement including the provisional application of the agreement. [29031/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

178. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the ratification procedure at EU and member state level for ratification of potential European trade agreements with the Mercosur trading block relating to market access and quotas; the elements that fall under exclusive EU level competence; and the areas that require national level approval. [29032/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 and 178 together.

Any international agreement entered into by the European Union with a third country or group of third countries may, depending on its content, be concluded as an EU-only agreement (i.e. without the Member States also being parties to that agreement) or as a "mixed" agreement (i.e. with both the EU and the Member States being parties to the agreement). In this regard, where an agreement covers only areas where the Union has exclusive competence under the EU Treaties, the agreement must be an EU-only agreement. On the other hand, where an agreement covers areas where competence is shared with the Member States (or contains areas of Union competence and exclusive Member State competence), it will be a "mixed" agreement referred to as an Association Agreement, with both the EU and the Member States being parties to it.

In order to determine whether an agreement entered into by the EU should be EU-only or "mixed", it is necessary to examine its contents to see whether it covers areas of EU exclusive competence, or of shared competence, or of Member States’ exclusive competence.

In relation to free trade agreements, EU exclusive competence can arise in two ways. First, the Common Commercial Policy is an exclusive competence of the European Union under the EU Treaties. Thus, any provisions of a free trade agreement covering areas such as trade in goods, or sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures will fall within the EU’s exclusive competence. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) interprets the scope of the Common Commercial Policy very broadly, and holds that foreign direct investment, most trade in services, and sustainable development provisions all fall within the scope of the Common Commercial Policy and therefore, with the EU’s exclusive competence. EU exclusive competence can also arise where provisions of an international agreement would affect the EU’s internal rules or alter their scope.

On the other hand, a "mixed" agreement contains aspects where the competence is shared between the Union and the Member States. Aspects of "mixed" competence, insofar as trade is concerned, are often provisions concerning Investment Protection and the EU Investment Court System. However, where an agreement also contains provisions which go beyond the broad area of trade and fall within the exclusive competence of the Member States – for instance, provisions concerning political cooperation in foreign policy areas – such an agreement would be considered to be "mixed".

When any Agreement is finalised, such as with Mercosur, the Commission proposes the Agreement to the Council and in doing so, it indicates to the Member States its view on competence and, therefore, ratification. Nationally, Ireland would then confer with the Office of the Attorney General for their views.

Insofar as Mercosur is concerned, it is our current understanding that it will be a "mixed" agreement. While the Trade Agreement elements fall under the exclusive competence of the Commission and are, therefore, ratified by Member States in Council under Qualified Majority voting and by the European Parliament, the EU-Mercosur Agreement is a wider 'mixed' Agreement – including Trade – with areas of “shared competence” (such as political co-operation elements).

However, the text of the EU-Mercosur Agreement will now have to proceed to so-called “legal scrubbing”, and translation, a process which can take between several months and up to two years to complete, before a final text is available.

"Mixed" agreements only enter into force once each individual EU Member State has approved it in line with its own national procedures. As this process may take several years, the Commission could propose that the Agreement be applied provisionally in respect of those aspects of the Agreement for which it has exclusive competence, such as trade.  Such provisional application requires agreement by the Council and ratification by the European Parliament.  It is not possible at this stage to be definitive about what timelines may apply in respect of ratifying the EU-Mercosur Agreement, until a final text is available. However, it is my Department’s understanding that the EU-Mercosur Agreement will be a "mixed" Agreement, ultimately requiring the involvement of Dáil Eireann in its ratification process.

In relation to the Deputy’s question on an assessment, my Department commissioned by open tender, a study of Free Trade Agreements, more than 12 months ago.  Copenhagen Economics were awarded this contract as an internationally renowned trade modelling firm. The study covered a wide range of recent and prospective EU trade agreements, including that with Mercosur. The preliminary findings, which was grounded in the information available at the time, suggest a doubling of annual goods and services exports to Mercosur over the 10 years to 2030.

In light of the conclusion of the negotiations last Friday, my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine will now ensure that a comprehensive, independent economic assessment is carried out specifically on the finalised EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement. This assessment will consider the impact the Agreement will have on the Irish economy and on jobs as well as the environmental implications of the deal. It will also consider how the EU-Mercosur Agreement might exacerbate/mitigate the likely impact of Brexit for our economy.  This assessment will help to inform our future actions in relation to EU-Mercosur agreement.

Work Permits Eligibility

Ceisteanna (179)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

179. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if a person (details supplied) qualifies for a work permit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29047/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Employment Permits Section of my Department informs me that not enough information has been provided to determine whether the person (details supplied) qualifies for an employment permit.

In order to work in the State all non-EEA nationals require a valid employment permit unless exempt under permission from the Department of Justice and Equality. In order to apply for an employment permit a non-EEA national must have secured a job offer for an eligible occupation from an Irish registered employer.

The State's general policy is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills needs from within Ireland and other EEA countries. Where specific skills prove difficult to source within the State or EEA, an employment permit may be sought by an employer to hire a non-EEA national in line with the Employment Permits Acts and associated Regulations, which lay down in legislation the criteria in relation to the application, grant and refusal of an employment permit.

Any application for an employment permit should comply with all of the legislative requirements for the particular employment permit type, including that the non-EEA national has the required immigration permission at the time of application. Immigration permissions are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, and any such queries should be directed to that Department.

Details on how to apply for an employment permit are available on our website at the following link - https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Workplace-and-Skills/Employment-Permits/.

Physiotherapy Provision

Ceisteanna (180)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

180. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of children on the waiting list for physiotherapy services in County Galway in 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the average waiting time for children to access physiotherapy services in the county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28617/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (181)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

181. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will be called for an operation in Letterkenny University Hospital; if they are on the routine or urgent waiting list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28621/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Ambulance Service Staff

Ceisteanna (182)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

182. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the new payroll system that came into effect on 2 June 2019 for ambulance workers does not recognise Sunday, bank holidays, overtime, premium and subsistence payments (details supplied); his views on whether it is unacceptable that workers are not being paid in full wages per week; and if the HSE will immediately organise an alternative method of payment to be put in place to ensure workers are paid in full and on time if the new payroll system cannot make these payments [28623/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.