Sunday 22 July 2018

Irish businesses want action plan to maintain trade with UK

John McGrane Director of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Steve Humphreys
John McGrane Director of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ailish O'Hora

Ailish O'Hora

Irish businesses want a strategy to ensure the maintenance of access to EU and UK markets in the wake of Brexit.

They also believe plans need to be put in place in the event of a medium term economic slowdown, the results of a new survey from the British Irish Chamber of Commerce showed.

Every week over €1.1bn of trade is conducted between the two islands, sustaining over 400,000 jobs directly and many more indirectly.

The survey, which questioned over 450 firms, mainly Irish SMEs, showed that 46pc wanted a strategy on access to markets while a further 32pc believed that plans mitigating an economic retrenchment were necessary.

Brexit-proofing strategies suggested by the firms included a review of currency strategy and the sourcing of new suppliers and sales markets.

The survey included both importers and exporters and they appear to be reacting differently to Britain's decision to exit the EU.

"Exporters are challenged but, encouragingly, they are already diversifying to export to markets other than the UK," said John McGrane, director general of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, which represents a range of Irish businesses from banks to SMEs.

"Importers are benefitting from weaker sterling although this is causing some substitution away from local suppliers," he added.

However, he added that both are concerned about the lengthy uncertainty of the UK negotiations with the EU while some firms believe that Brexit represents 'crisis two' for businesses following on from the recent economic meltdown.

The Chamber also enables engagement between Government, policy makers and business and the survey results come on the heels of a Central Bank decision to cut its growth forecasts for this year and next on the back of the Brexit referendum impact.

The International Monetary Fund has also cut its Irish economic forecasts on the back of Brexit and warned that banks here could take a hit on their UK operations as well as growth prospects.

The Washington-based IMF is now forecasting Irish Gross Domestic Product growth of 3.2pc for the year, down from 3.6pc.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business