They may not be everyone’s idea of a priority but the first exports to get moving this week after ten days of restrictions on travel will be consignments of Botox, Viagra and oral contraceptives from large pharmaceutical companies based in this country. The main firms affected by the disruption caused by the cloud of volcanic ash over Europe were producers of biopharmaceuticals, electronics and specialist food products.
John Whelan, chief executive of the Irish Exporters Association, told the Sunday Business Post that there had been an enormous pile up of goods. He estimated that over €500 million worth of products destined for overseas markets were stuck in Ireland until travel began to return to normal at the weekend. “Of the exports, around 48 per cent are pharmaceuticals. We produce eight of the top 10 drugs in the world, including very specialist drugs for different diseases. Ireland is also the main supplier of Botox worldwide,” Whelan said.
Their chief priority now was to get as much aeroplane capacity as possible and some exporters were banding together to hire charter aircraft. The difficulty here was in getting landing space and time slots and loading products on and off planes. Most firms will not be covered by insurance for the cost of delays in moving their goods nor are they likely to receive compensation from the European Union.
Whelan noted that the volcanic ash had not actually dissipated – it was merely blown out of flight paths. It remained to be seen if changes in the weather – or further eruptions – could bring more travel chaos.


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