Northern firms plan to set up a base here to avoid tariffs
Businesses in the North are hoping that setting up a base here will help them get around potentially bruising tariffs post-Brexit.
The 'smart option' for businesses in the North would be to set up a base in the Republic ahead of Brexit, said Brian Morgan, of Morgan McManus Solicitors in Clones, Co Monaghan.
The law firm has recently been appointed to InterTradeIreland's Brexit advisory panel, giving advice to small and medium companies in the North who wish to make trade easier ahead of a possible hard Border and the introduction of tariffs. Mr Morgan revealed that a number of small firms in the North are taking steps to establish a base in the Republic because "it makes sense".
A report by InterTradeIreland on the possible impact of World Trade Organisation tariffs on cross-border trade shows that the WTO tariffs on products can vary from zero to more than 80pc. Products with the highest tariffs are mainly in the food, clothes and tobacco sectors. The report said that, as Irish cross-border trade has considerable agri-food content, higher tariffs would apply in a WTO scenario on Northern Irish trade compared to the rest of the UK.
InterTradeIreland is offering a €1,000 Brexit readiness voucher to firms seeking to access expert advice to address specific Brexit-related issues such as movement of labour, goods, services and currency management.
The scheme is open to registered small manufacturing or 'internationally tradeable' service companies of 250 employees or less, with an annual turnover not more than €2m, while the assistance must relate to a cross-border issue.
"It's in its infancy," explained Mr Morgan, adding that he expects most companies in the North to set up a base here over the coming years.
He believes that the North will be "more decimated than it realises" by Brexit and will become more isolated from the rest of the UK.
"The problem is that you can't plan for Brexit until you know what it will bring," he said.