Last week, Ibec CEO Danny McCoy met British Prime Minister Theresa May, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Business Secretary Greg Clark in Downing St as part of a delegation of key EU business federations, where he stressed the need for urgent progress in Brexit talks.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr McCoy said: “The message to the UK government was clear, business is increasingly frustrated and concerned at the lack of progress in negotiations. To move past the first phase of talks, which covers Ireland, the financial settlement and citizens’ rights, we need practical solutions and firm commitments, not just rhetoric.”
At the meeting Mr McCoy set out a number of immediate and specific Irish business concerns, reflecting input from SFA and its members . “EU and UK businesses will need an extended transition period to plan and adapt to any new EU-UK trading relationship. This period should ensure continuity with existing trading terms. Short-term and short-sighted political pressures must not overtake the overriding and obvious economic rationale for such arrangements,” said Mr McCoy.
“The UK has yet to match its stated commitment to a soft border on the island of Ireland with practical proposals to achieve this. A new approach is needed. The creation of new customs and regulatory barriers on the island of Ireland must be avoided. Safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement and the future functioning of the all-island economy must not be just an Irish/EU priority, the UK must step up to the mark.
“The East-West aspect of the Good Friday Agreement, which covers the "totality of relationships" between Ireland and Britain, has received limited attention over the years. Our shared EU membership meant close business and economic cooperation was taken for granted. However, Brexit changes that. It is imperative that the legally enshrined commitment to promote greater cooperation between the UK and Ireland is not a casualty of Brexit. A concerted, structured focus is now needed to safeguard this intrinsic aspect of the Agreement.”
Brexit update from November SFA member survey
Preliminary results from a recent SFA member survey show that:
- 30% of respondents say that Brexit has already had a negative impact on their business (4% very negative, 25% somewhat negative)
- 50% expect Brexit to have a negative impact on their business in the next six months
Details of impact
Major impacts to date, in order of importance:
- Postponement of decision to do business
- Postponement of investment
- Increased sourcing of raw materials from the UK
- Loss of business in the UK market
What do SFA members want from Government?
The top asks from Government have remained constant since the Brexit vote in June 2016:
- Make the Irish tax regime as attractive as the UK (e.g. higher limit for CGT Entrepreneur Relief)
- Increase state agency supports to help businesses diversify their export markets
- Improve cost competitiveness of Irish small firms.
The November 2017 SFA Small Business Survey was conducted between 22 October and 5 November. The data is based on 732 responses from SFA member companies.
Upcoming Brexit events
- Meath Chamber Breakfast Briefing
SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens will be speaking on Brexit at this event in Ardoyne Hotel, Navan on Friday, 24 November. To find out more and register contact Sandra Jameson on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.meathchambers.ie.
- All facts, no noise. Practical help to plan for Brexit
InterTradeIreland are running this event in Croke Park on Tuesday, 5 December. Find out more and register here.