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Dublin in the Blue Corner

The now infamous term ‘Brexit’ (meaning Britain’s exit from the European Union for anyone that may have been actively avoiding the news in recent months) is one that has long been met with apprehension and uncertainty from our shores. As a relatively small country we find ourselves somewhat reliant on our larger neighbour for certain amounts of trade and, as such we have been unsure of what this move would mean for Ireland’s continuing recovery as well as our own trade options.

There seems to be good news on the horizon this week however, as it was announced that according to research from Ernst & Young’s London office, Dublin is now the most preferred Brexit location for financial services companies. A move in this direction would be an incredibly positive one for Ireland, with Dublin already being somewhat of tech hub with companies like social media giant Facebook choosing to have their European head office here. This also places Dublin ahead of Europe’s current financial centre, Frankfurt which is a major boost to how Dublin is perceived in the financial sector.

Whilst Dublin may only be slightly ahead of Frankfurt, this is a significant indicator of positive movement following Brexit as the survey included 222 banks and other institutions, showing that Dublin is being considered as a real and viable option for European trading following Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union. It is reported that 19 companies mentioned Dublin as a potential destination they would consider moving operations to following Brexit.

In recent months, Ireland has already won out over our competitor Frankfurt in securing banking giants such as Barclays to our shores. There is of course no commitment attached to these findings, but it is encouraging to know that Ireland is one of the first options to come to mind for financial services companies in these uncertain times.

It is both a time of excitement and uncertainty for Ireland as Brexit approaches and should these companies put their contingency plan into action we may well see some positive changes for our country come as a result of this upheaval.

Should you require any help, guidance or assistance on any business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA, or pay a visit to our new office where we are now all settled in and ready to be of assistance.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

SOWING THE SEEDS OF INTERNATIONAL GROWTH

Success is a very strange beast which appears in different forms for all individuals whether business owners or not. For business owners in Ireland, often the first port of call is to establish some small measure of success on home turf, before seeking to grow the business elsewhere. In the years following the financial crisis we have seen a mass exodus of people leaving our country, visas in hand to find their fortunes elsewhere. It would appear that this has slowed considerably in recent times so today we are going to focus on the other side of the coin, managing to grow your Irish business internationally while remaining on home ground.

 

Recent reports have suggested that since Ireland’s financial recovery has started to pick up some form of speed, many of those who have travelled to Australia or elsewhere and found success there have returned to Ireland in order to utilise their newfound skills and level of success. The Enterprise Ireland office in Sydney is said to be working with more than 150 Irish companies, whilst a vast number of Australian companies are now expanding operations in Ireland. Similarly, Irish recruitment agency CPL created a pop-up office in Melbourne in which it interviewed Irish professionals for positions back in Ireland.

 

So what options exist for growing your Irish business internationally whether you are making your return or have stayed put?

 

The Enterprise Ireland Internationalisation Grant gives Irish businesses the opportunity to grow in international markets. This grant focuses solely on supporting the costs of undertaking new market research which is a valuable asset in growing your business in new areas and the research must focus on an area not already being covered by your business. There are a number of eligibility criteria available through the Enterprise Ireland website including that the business must be based in the Republic of Ireland and employ more than 10 people. There is also an available option for much larger companies. The maximum grant available here is €35,000, which would certainly garner valuable information for growing your company. This grant is open to applications all year round.

 

For smaller companies and SMEs, the Enterprise Europe Network is an invaluable resource which will assist in gaining new contacts and support networks beyond the door of your own business. This is a support network for SMEs and other companies with international ambitions assisting in gaining contacts and providing much needed information about funding available. This is also an important resource when looking to grow your business internationally as it provides valuable information on EU regulations which will ensure that your business is following all appropriate protocol.

 

The Enterprise Europe Network also provide an access to EU funding programme for SMEs to assist in this process as well as giving Irish companies the opportunity to give feedback on EU legislation. This is a resource we would urge all Irish SMEs whether dreaming big or small to engage with.

 

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants, where we will be happy to assist and advise in any way possible.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

THE BRUISED APPLE

You would have been hard pushed to miss the recent upset in the taxation camp in the last couple of days as it was announced that a ruling took place on August 30th in relation to the tax arrangements of tech giants Apple in Ireland, the ruling stated that the company had been offered special treatment in Ireland. The European Commissioners will be required to raise a tax assessment on Apple in the coming months as the EU rules that the company’s Irish tax arrangements were illegal under state aid rules. This ruling is expected to come in the next couple of days. It is likely that the company could face a bill for back taxes of up to €13billion. Both the Irish government and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook have insisted that Apple were not in fact offered any special deal on taxation.

Whilst from the outward appearances a gain of this magnitude for Irish finances may seem like a bonus for important spending like hospital, schooling and housing, it has been stated that should all appeals be lost and this cash revert to the Irish state, it has been suggested by experts that it be immediately be used to pay down the national debt instead. Finance Minister Michael Noonan insisted that Ireland would appeal the ruling in order to;

“Defend the integrity of our tax system; to provide tax certainty to business and to challenge the encroachment of EU state aid rules into sovereign member state competence of taxation.”

Whilst Apple CEO Tim Cook has staunchly denied that there was any special treatment given, stating that:

“We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a government that says we don’t owe them any more than we’ve already paid. […]  We are committed to Ireland and we plan to continue investing there, growing and serving our customers with the same level of passion and commitment. We firmly believe that the facts and the established legal principles upon which the EU was founded will ultimately prevail.”

As well as stating that Apple are not only the biggest tax payer in Ireland, but the biggest tax payer in the world. The issue that arises here would be the damage that could be done to the business reputation of Ireland should this ruling come to pass and Ireland be ruled to have given illegal state aid to Apple in this case. Whilst the cash would be a boon to our debts, the government will not want to damage our international reputation with top global corporations with Minister Noonan going as far as to say that to collect the tax would be like “eating the seed potatoes” as the ruling could have far reaching implications for EU member states and their taxation systems as well as causing havoc for Ireland which has long been a haven for global companies due to the very nature of the taxation system in place.

Should you require any help or guidance with your own business or tax matters (the October 31st deadline for filing is approaching faster than you might think!) please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants where we will be happy to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

CLEANING THE BREXIT WOUNDS

We have spoken before about the issues and opportunities that lay ahead for the Irish economy in the wake of Britain’s somewhat shocking Brexit vote results. In the weeks since the vote there has been a continuous atmosphere of uncertainty about all things economic both here and across the water.

 

Goodbody’s recent health check for the third quarter of 2016 shows that Ireland’s economic growth having just about managed to get its feet moving, is due to slow in the next 18 months. This is to be expected however as the view on the Irish economic status becomes increasingly cautious due to our tight links with Britain. It is expected that Brexit will trigger some form of a recession in the UK, primarily related to the uncertainty of the situation and lower spending habits as a result. When or how this would hit Ireland remains to be seen but it is undeniable that it will have a knock on effect to our small island with Goodbody predicting that our domestic demand will fall to 4.2% in 2016 and then lower again to 3.7% in 2017. Goodbody’s chief economist Dermot O’Leary has stated that;

“An imminent UK recession, triggered by Brexit-related uncertainty, is likely to take the gloss off a robust Irish economic performance.”

 

It has also been reported this week that some Irish banks are quite vulnerable to a possible downturn with HSBC claiming that they are enter a period of heightened uncertainty as tax profits fall. Despite making significant progress, Irish banks remain vulnerable to any future financial downturns. Recently, stress tests were conducted throughout Europe in order to ascertain how banks would survive a recession. These tests caused some concern for the Irish economic situation as both AIB and Bank of Ireland fared poorly in these tests as the second and fourth worst performers respectively.

 

Again these seem like grim tidings but it is important to remain open minded as analysts have suggested that weak asset quality and recent losses on bad loans might give good reasoning behind these poor performances and that the exercise did not take into account progressions in the last year and that our high level of overall debt skews these results unfavourably against our banks.

 

There was however an unexpected silver lining in Ireland’s economic situation which came in the form of Ireland’s valiant efforts in the Euros 2016 tournament. The tournament has reportedly send grocery sales skyrocketing with stores such as Supervalu and Dunnes recording a 3.4% and a 6.5% rise in value of sales during the latest period, whilst bargain stores such as Dealz also saw a great surge in sales.

 

It is hoped that the weakened sterling will not cause floods of shoppers to cross the border for bargains as we have seen happen before, and that although there is plenty of uncertainty in the air and the reports are laced with dread, that the Irish economy can level out and perhaps even benefit from this uncertainty as we have seen recently that smaller retailers can flourish in these times.

 

Should you require any help, advice or guidance on your own business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants where we are always more than happy to help.

Manager Index, showing a new push towards caution ahead of the Brexit vote.

Whilst the future and coming negotiations between Britain and the EU will be crucial to Irish interests, we will be reliant on the EU side to maintain the best interests of Ireland. This puts us in an interesting position as much of our business is reliant on the UK. It is hoped that in particular, the Common Travel Area agreement that is in place between the UK and Ireland remains in place as new borders would cause chaos for Irish people working in the UK, as well as making our trade routes increasingly difficult.

It will certainly be a long road of uncertainty ahead for Irish and British businesses, but there is still hope on the horizon and whilst business may not resume as normal for all, new pathways will be forged in the wake of Brexit.

As always if you require any guidance, advice or assistance with your own business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants, let us be the one constant for your business in this time of change.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

BREAKING UP IS NEVER EASY – BREXIT

It has been quite a week for British politics and an interesting one for Irish companies trading with Britain. There has been a lot of upheaval and uncertainty underlying businesses in the wake of the shocking ‘Brexit’ result which saw Britain historically vote to leave the European Union with an incredibly close vote of 52% leave to 48% stay. The instant panic saw stock markets begin a struggle which continues to attempt to right themselves during a turbulent couple of weeks, while the value of the pound itself instantly plummeted. We spoke recently about what this event could mean for Ireland, and considering the news of this is unlikely to filter out any time soon, it is a topic we will all be following with interest.

Amidst the panic, as previously discussed there will be some new opportunities for Ireland to harness off the back of this move, and it is also important to bear in mind that although there will be many far reaching consequences, commerce – like Celine Dion’s heart, will go on. Despite the UK accounting for almost half of Irish exports, there may be a silver lining for Irish markets. On the positive side, despite early turbulence, world stock markets have proven rather resilient and have recovered well this week, despite the continuing weakness of Sterling.

The entire Brexit process is sure to be a lengthy one, particularly in the aftermath of David Cameron’s departure, and it will remain to be seen what this may mean for other members of the European Union. On our own end, growth and activity in Ireland’s services sector slowed by 0.5% in June according to Investec’s Purchasing Manager Index, showing a new push towards caution ahead of the Brexit vote.

Whilst the future and coming negotiations between Britain and the EU will be crucial to Irish interests, we will be reliant on the EU side to maintain the best interests of Ireland. This puts us in an interesting position as much of our business is reliant on the UK. It is hoped that in particular, the Common Travel Area agreement that is in place between the UK and Ireland remains in place as new borders would cause chaos for Irish people working in the UK, as well as making our trade routes increasingly difficult.

It will certainly be a long road of uncertainty ahead for Irish and British businesses, but there is still hope on the horizon and whilst business may not resume as normal for all, new pathways will be forged in the wake of Brexit.

As always if you require any guidance, advice or assistance with your own business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants, let us be the one constant for your business in this time of change.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

DCA Q&A: HOW DO I GET THE CE STANDARD?

Q: I’m taking my first steps into product development with a view to exporting within the EU straight away. When talking to a potential distributor, he asked me if my product had the ‘CE’ standard, or if I intended seeking it. He added that, without my product having the standard, he probably wouldn’t stock it.

 

My problem is that, while I’ve seen the ‘CE’ mark on some products, I’ve no idea what this means, or how I can get it. Is it a long drawn out process?

 

A: If you make or export products that are subject to EU-wide standards, you can seek the CE marking to certify compliance – this will help open doors for your product across the continent.

 

It can, unfortunately, be a long process: you will need to identify the standards required, test to ensure that your product meets these requirements, and put together a technical dossier proving that your product fulfils all the EU-wide requirements. As the manufacturer, you are the sole person responsible for declaring conformity.

 

First, of course, you will need to identify the EU-wide requirements for your product. These are can be accessed through europa.eu. Not all products are required to bear  CE marking – only products falling within the scope of at least one of the ‘sectoral directives’ requiring the marking for distribution. However, based on your conversation with this potential distributor, I imagine your product is covered. These directives lay down the essential requirements that products have to fulfil.

 

These can be complex, so some 20,000 harmonised European standards covering a vast array of product areas have been published. The simplest way to ensure that you’re meeting the essential requirements of European directives is to follow the applicable harmonised. You can find harmonised standards on the the OJEU site, or by visiting the New Approach website established by the European Commission and EFTA with the European Standardisation Organisations.

 

For some products, independent authorities must verify that your product meets the technical requirements. To find out whether your product needs specialised testing, and identify the authority responsible, you can use the New Approach Notified and Designated Organisations (NANDO) database, available here. If independent testing isn’t required, then you are responsible for checking that it conforms with the technical requirements. This includes documenting and estimating any possible risks entailed in using your product.

 

Next, it’s time to complete the technical dossier. This should be clear and comprehensive, including all the documents needed to prove that your product conforms with the technical requirements. It will usually include a technical description,  drawings, circuit diagrams and photos, a bill of materials, specification of critical components and materials used (which may include declarations of conformity), details of any design calculations, test reports or assessments, instructions, and an EC Declaration of Conformity. Looking ahead, you must also hold this technical documentation for up to ten years after manufacturing the last unit.

 

Because the CE Marking is a self-declaration system, you will also have to formally declare compliance by writing a Declaration of Conformity. This must include the manufacturer’s details, essential characteristics the product complies, any European standards and performance data, the identification number of any Notified Body which tested it, and a legally binding signature on behalf of your organisation.

 

Finally, you can put the CE marking on your product. Alongside this marking, you will need to put the identification number of any authority that you needed to involve in testing the product. Once your product bears the marking, you should provide your distributors or importers with copies of all the supporting documentation.

 

While this sounds like quite a lot of hassle, it is essential if you’re going to export in a serious way within the EU. Moreover, unless your product requires independent testing, the ‘self declaration’ system allows you to work through the process promptly.

 

Do you have a question for DCA’s experts? Contact us or connect with us on Twitter.