STATE LOSES APPEAL OVER SAGA OF AUGHINISH TAX BREAKS - Ireland has lost a state aid appeal at the EU's top court over a tax break provided to the huge Aughinish Alumina facility in Co Limerick. 

The Irish State failed after a lengthy series of actions to stop the European Commission forcing the Government here to recover €10m Brussels said amounted to illegal state aid provided to the now Russian-owed Aughinish Alumina facility in Co Limerick. The funds had already been collected from the company by authorities here amid a series of cases and appeals, says the Irish Independent. Yesterday Ireland, along with Italy, lost a second appeal at the European Court of Justice over the cases that have been running for 14 years and featured five appeals. The European Court of Justice agreed with the Commission that Ireland and Italy provided illegal state aid from 2002 to 2004 through a tax exemption from excise duty for heavy mineral oil used to produce aluminium. Countries must apply for any exemption from excise taxes. Ireland and Italy had done that in relation to aluminium until 2001, but then stopped. A spokesman for the Department of Finance said the latest judgment is being examined. The Limerick plant was owned by Swiss commodities giant Glencore between 2002 and 2004 when it availed of disputed tax breaks. Glencore later merged its alumina assets with Russia's Rusal.

CALL FOR HIGHER TAXES ON USED CAR IMPORTS - The motor trade is pleading with the Government to tighten regulations on used-car imports amid stark warnings of job losses and a dramatic decline in new car sales in the face of Brexit. 

At a press briefing attended by senior executives from most of the major car brands in the Republic, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (Simi) warned that dealers are already suffering hugely from the impact of the Brexit vote, with new cars being substituted by used imports and the devaluing impact these imports are having on the the two million cars on Irish roads. Economist Jim Power predicted new car sales could fall as low as 80,000 on the back of a no-deal Brexit, or as low as 70,000 if there are any tax increases on new cars in October's budget. He said the new car market this year will total 115,512, says the Irish Times. Mr Power estimated that even in the case of a Brexit deal, new car sales will still fall to 105,000 and will be overtaken by used imports for the first time, which will rise to 115,000 next year. He said a hard Brexit will cost the exchequer €231 million in lost tax income on new car sales and put 10,000 jobs in the motor trade at risk. 


IMPORTERS STOCKPILE ALCOHOL FOR CHRISTMAS TO AVOID BREXIT DROUGHT - Companies across Britain have begun stockpiling beer, wine and spirits to keep the alcohol flowing at Christmas as concerns grow that Brexit could disrupt supplies over the festive period. 

Rushing to bring forward their imports, firms warn that the Brexit deadline on 31 October stands to clash with the run-up to Christmas, when import volumes rise, temporary staff are employed and warehouse space is at a premium, says the Guardian. More than a fifth of companies have taken steps to import stocks earlier than usual to avoid any border disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to a survey from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (Cips). John Glen, an economist at Cips, said alcohol wholesalers in particular had started stockpiling imports from the EU in recent weeks, rather than waiting until November as usual. "It's particularly wine from the EU," he said. "Companies have bought well ahead of Christmas this year, due to potential disruption at the ports and to try and avoid depreciation in the value of sterling against the euro." Wine merchants have started to import more champagne to supply the UK over Christmas. Britain is the biggest export market for champagne, buying more than 26 million bottles a year, helping support the French economy and a champagne market worth €4.9 billion (£4.3 billion).

FIRST TENANT FOR HORGAN'S QUAY BLOCK NAMED - The developers of one of Cork's largest docklands projects has secured its first tenant - with more announcements in the pipeline. 

Serviced office provider, Spaces, which is part of Belgian group IWG, has agreed to pre-let 30,000 sq ft in one of three office blocks currently under construction as part of the €160m Horgan’s Quay development on the city's northern docks, says the Irish Examiner. Founded in Brussels in 1989, IWG provides serviced offices, virtual offices, meeting rooms, and video-conferencing to clients on a contract basis. It owns and operates several globally recognised brands, including Regus, Spaces and No18. The deal was negotiated by Savills with HQ Developments - a joint venture between Clarendon Properties and BAM to deliver one of the most ambitious docklands projects in the city. The scheme is being built on a six-acre site overlooking the River Lee and right next to the city’s railway station. It includes the development of three Grade A office buildings to provide some 310,000 sq ft of office space, hundreds of new apartments, and a 120-bed hotel to be operated by the Press Up Entertainment Group. A number of retail and restaurant outlets are also being built.