Import regulations and customs duties
Since the first of January 1993, the European Union, of which Ireland is part, has been a single market, without any customs barriers, which ensures free circulation of goods. On May, 1st of 2004, ten "candidate countries" became new members of the European Union: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. Trade within the European Union is totally free from customs duties, provided that the country of origin of the goods is one of the 25 European Union Member States. Nevertheless, when introducing merchandises into Ireland, exporters shall fill in an intrastat declaration.
When the country of origin of the goods exported to Ireland is not part of the European Union, customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value of the goods, in accordance with the Common Customs Tariff (CCT).
The duties for non-European countries are relatively low, especially for manufactured goods (4.2% on average for the general rate), however textile, clothing items (high duties and quota system) and food-processing industry sectors (average duties of a 17.3% and numerous tariff quotas, PAC) still know protective measures.
In order to get exhaustive regulations and customs tariffs rates regarding their products, exporters shall refer to the TARIC code and its database, which includes all applicable customs duties and all customs trade policy measures for all the goods.
Moreover, many bilateral and multilateral agreements have been signed by the European Union, in order to define specific customs duties with the following countries:
- Customs agreements with Australia, Canada, the United States, Mexico and South Korea.
- The EU-EFTA (European Free Trade Association) Agreement was signed in 1972 with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
- Free trade agreements with Bulgaria and Romania that hope joining the European Union in 2007.
- Mediterranean Agreements, concerning: Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.
- The ACP agreements, with 95% of the tariff lines with a 0% rate for developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean Islands and Pacific. The Cotonou Agreement, signed in year 2000, defines the new EU-ACP partnership.
- The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP): 54% of the tariff lines of a 0% for developing countries outside the ACP framework.
To get an exhaustive list of the foreign trade agreements of the European Union, click here.
>> To get further information on customs policies in the European Union, please check the exhaustive report by the European Commission.
Excise duties are also levied on certain products, especially on spirit.
>> To get further information on VAT rates in Ireland, please check the list of VAT rates applied within the European Union, as well as the Ministry of Finance web site.
>> More detailed information on excise duties is available concerning alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, energy products on the European Commission website.
The years 1999 to 2001 marked a phase of exceptional growth for Ireland, allowing it to catch up to the economic level of the European Union countries. In 2004, retail trade grew to 66.5 billion euros, a growth of 2.75% as compared to 2003. Consumers have become more demanding, and as a result the distribution market has changed to the benefit of foreign brands.
The Business to Consumer (B to C) market
Sales (in terms of volume) in the retail trade increased by 4.2% in August 2005 compared to the same period in 2004, and in terms of value there was an increase of 5.7%.
Foreign products are increasingly becoming highly prized especially in the food sector, and the consumers’ demand for good quality is also going up. The most striking phenomenon is the trend toward consolidation and the entry of foreign groups into the country especially British companies like Marks & Spencer and TESCO. 70% of the distribution of food products is monopolized by groups like Musgrave, Dunnes Store, Superquinn and TESCO. In addition, franchises such as Super Valu, Spar have recently appeared.
Non-food consumer goods, which constitute half of retail sales, are mainly distributed by national stores like Roches Stores, Brown Thomas and Arnotts.
Shopping centers and malls are on the increase, with one opening up in 2005 in Dublin in the centre of Dundrum, consisting mainly of foreign brands like Zara, H&M and Mango.
The Business to Business (B to B) market
Transportation of goods
Patents and brands
Ireland signed the Agreement of Paris concerning the protection of industrial property and the agreement which establishes the World Intellectual property Organization (WIPO). The country also signed the Agreement of Rome and Bern. As for patents, it adhered to the Agreement of Munich for European patents, as well as the Patents Co-operation Treaty (PCT). Furthermore, it adhered to the agreement of Strasbourg.