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Brexit will cost Irish firms, says major border forklift maker

Combilift made 6,000 forklifts last year and the raw materials used in their manufacture originates either in the UK or transits through the country (stock photo)
Combilift made 6,000 forklifts last year and the raw materials used in their manufacture originates either in the UK or transits through the country (stock photo)

By Katherine Donnelly

Combilift managing director Martin McVicar says he is confident about dealing with the Brexit challenge, but that a UK departure from the EU will cost Irish business and industry money.

The forklift manufacturer, which had a turnover of €235m (£209m) in 2017 and employs 600, is fully exposed to any Brexit fall-out as it is located just across the border in Co Monaghan.

Mr McVicar said: "The biggest problem at the moment is uncertainty. The sooner any business has clarity, the better. When we know the outcome, we will figure out a solution."

The MD warned of the negative consequences of a hard Brexit on the Irish economy because so many companies relied on business with the UK.

However, he said he is confident that Combilift products will still be in demand in the UK.

But he said UK companies also would be hit hard, potentially facing World Trade Organisation tariffs of 4.5% for his products "and that is only one example".

Combilift exports 98% of its products, including 25% into the UK.

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It made 6,000 forklifts last year and the raw materials used in their manufacture originates either in the UK or transits through the country. The company relies heavily on trucks, which are a cheaper mode of transport than containers.

Mr McVicar said that in a Brexit scenario, filling containers with goods exclusively for Combilift would make more sense, but that they would be more costly.

Combilift has applied to become an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO), a status that will give the company authority to transit its own goods through customs more freely

At current output level, they would need about 47 containers a week to import raw materials and another 47 leaving the country with the finished product, destined either for the UK or an EU port such as a Rotterdam for onward transit.

Belfast Telegraph

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