Tuesday 17 October 2017

Brexit exodus: Over quarter of Irish CEOs considering shift from UK

A protester during a Unite for Europe march in London earlier this year. Photo: Bloomberg
A protester during a Unite for Europe march in London earlier this year. Photo: Bloomberg
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

More than a quarter of Irish ceos with operations in the UK are considering shifting some or all of those operations to Ireland due to Brexit, a survey has found.

The vast majority of CEOs surveyed are worried about Ireland's competitiveness after the UK's exit from the European Union, according to the survey by consultants PwC.

Less than two-thirds of chief executives are confident about their organisation's prospects for revenue growth over the next three years.

Feargal O'Rourke, PwC managing partner, said that while the Brexit negotiations have started, there is a long road ahead and businesses need to plan for the worst.

"The facts remain that with the complexities of what needs to be negotiated, any trade negotiations will likely take longer than two years to complete," Mr O'Rourke said.

"There is no doubt that a hard Brexit with no exit agreement or free-trade/transition arrangement by the end of March 2019 would be uncharted waters for Irish businesses with a very different business landscape emerging."

The survey of more than 200 Irish ceos, across all sectors, was carried out as part of PwC's Pulse Survey, which will be released later this month.

Other key findings include:

  • 30pc say they expect their level of trade with the UK to decline post-Brexit;
  • 81pc are concerned about Ireland's overall competitiveness post-Brexit, while 75pc are concerned about exchange rate volatility;
  • Less than two-thirds (61pc) of Irish ceos are confident about their organisation's prospects for revenue growth over the next three years, down from 85pc prior to the UK's decision to leave the EU;
  • Well over a third (41pc) see the greatest opportunity as being the potential for increased foreign direct investment (FDI) based on Ireland being the only English-speaking member state in the EU, aside from Malta;
  • Of those survey participants who have UK operations, over a quarter (27pc) are either planning to relocate some or all of their operations to Ireland or this is under consideration;
  • Improvements need to be made in certain key areas, respondents believe, including the high personal tax burden (29pc), accommodation deficits (25pc), lack of available talent (17pc), poor infrastructure (15pc) and regulation (14pc).

John O'Loughlin, PwC Ireland global trade and customs leader, also said that customs and tariffs are a key concern for Irish business leaders.

"If World Trade Organisation rules govern EU-UK trade relations post March 2019, competitiveness and costs would likely be impacted as companies compete on a new global playing field," said Mr O'Loughlin.

Irish Independent

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