Saturday 18 November 2017

Cross-border firms 'not planning ahead to deal with Brexit'

Aidan Gough, strategy director at InterTradeIreland
Aidan Gough, strategy director at InterTradeIreland
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Just 3pc of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) exporting cross-border have a plan in place to deal with the potential fallout of Brexit, a survey shows.

Some 77pc say the ongoing uncertainty is making it difficult to put a plan in place, according to the study by cross-border trade body InterTradeIreland.

More than a third of the businesses surveyed said they would like more one-to-one supports and guidance on Brexit matters, and almost a quarter want additional information on tariffs.

It comes just weeks after InterTradeIreland revealed an average of four businesses every day have been in contact looking to tap into its Brexit Advisory Service, including information on the tariffs they could face. But firms are still not putting plans in place.

Aidan Gough, strategy and policy director at InterTradeIreland, said it is essential that Irish SMEs start to prepare and plan for the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, including getting detail on the level of tariffs that could be imposed on their products in the event of a hard Brexit.

"There are relatively simple steps that SMEs can and should take. InterTradeIreland is encouraging all businesses to plan, act and engage for every potential outcome," he said.

The latest report reveals stability in the all-island economy with little indication of direct negative impacts from prevailing uncertainty on business at this stage. About 56pc of firms are reporting they are 'stable' and 33pc reported growth.

Mr Gough told the Irish Independent last month that firms are so focused on the present that it's hard to get them to think about 18 months ahead.

"What they're saying is they don't have any information to form their plans. They're so busy competing just to make a success of their business," he said.

"It's within the realms of of being manageable for most businesses if you start planning for it."

World Trade Organisation tariffs - which could be imposed if the UK pulls out of the EU without a trade deal - are levied on specific product lines and the variation across products can range from 0pc to over 80pc.

Irish Independent

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