WITH Britain as the largest export market for the Irish sport horse industry, the potential consequences for the Irish sport horse industry arising from Brexit are serious for those involved with show jumping and other sport horses.
On the eve of the largest annual gathering of the sector at the Dublin Horse Show, a forum was held to examine the potential outcomes of Brexit and discuss the preparations that should be considered.
Introducing the Forum, Michael Duffy, CEO of the RDS: “The Dublin Horse Show is largest gathering of the Irish sport horse community each year, so it an ideal opportunity to discuss a matter that will affect the industry. As it is an industry that has strong cross border commercial and social activity, and has Britain as its largest market, there are many ramifications arising from the Brexit decision.”
Speaking at the Forum, David Carson, partner at Deloitte, said: “All industries need to be proactive in engaging with the consequences of Brexit. While uncertainty remains about the final outcome of Britain leaving the EU, companies and industries cannot afford to procrastinate because of this. Deloitte’s “Brexit Labs” accelerates businesses beyond this uncertainty by examining potential risks, scenario planning and exploring opportunities to drive strategy and decision making.
The sport horse industry has enjoyed free movement of horses between Ireland and Britain since the 1970s, but the implementation of Brexit may require change to this. The sport horse industry is made up of a wealth of interdependent SMEs who are ingrained in rural Ireland, but they need to engage collectively with this pressing issue.”
Since the 1970s, a Tripartite Agreement agreed between the respective Departments of Agriculture of Ireland, the UK and France has effectively allowed free movement of horses between all three countries. Any border controls required by the final agreement reached between the UK and the EU will remove this long-standing arrangement.
Professor Alan Fahey of UCD has been involved in a number of economic reports evaluating the Irish Sport Horse industry also contributed to the Forum: “Similar to the thoroughbred market, Ireland has an international reputation for producing quality pedigree sport horses, one that has been built up through the generations. As shown in recent economic reports, including the most up-to-date work that has yet to be published, the sport horse industry has the potential to further increase its economic value beyond the current €700 million it contributes. The industry is however exposed as any to the consequences of Brexit and we need to begin future-proofing ourselves for a number of potential outcomes, including tariffs on the export to Britain of Irish sport horses.”
A panel chaired by RTE journalist and broadcaster Tom McGurk discussed some of the far-reaching implications of the looming Brexit.
Key findings from today's discussion concluded that the export-led Irish sport horse industry, valued at €700m, was particularly vital to Ireland's rural economy.
• Strong cross-border ties within industry potentially under threat.
• Britain most important trading partner for sector.
• Use of UK as land bridge a necessity for trade & competitions on the continent.
More coverage of the RDS Brexit seminar in Saturday's paper