Almost 70 per cent of Northern Ireland Businesses unsure what opportunities Brexit will bring

08 May 2018

Author: Michael Johnston
Sector: Brexit

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With less than a year to go until the UK formally leaves the EU, almost 70 per cent of Northern Ireland businesses are unsure what opportunities Brexit will bring, according to a new survey by law firm Carson McDowell.

The research, which was carried out in April 2018, aimed to identify areas where local businesses see potential for growth as a result of Brexit and also what their primary concerns are ahead of the Brexit deadline in March 2019.

Carson McDowell found that while a sizeable 31 per cent of respondents expected to benefit from reduced red tape, access to new markets and greater input to legislative processes, more than 69 per cent could not yet identify any opportunities presented by Brexit.

The survey found that 49 per cent of those surveyed said their business had been negatively impacted by the Brexit decision already, but a further 33 per cent said they had observed no material change in the past 18 months and only 12 per cent said they had experienced a positive change.

More than half of all respondents (54 per cent) said that any change to the current border provisions on the island of Ireland would have a material impact on their business.

Businesses surveyed were also split on the possible effect of the trade border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, with 49 per cent saying the imposition of a trade border would be detrimental to business and 33 per cent saying it would have no material impact.

The divergence of regulatory matters away from the EU and skills shortages were listed as the two biggest legal issues of concern. But despite these concerns 46 per cent of businesses said they have not yet started contingency planning for the impact of Brexit, and only 36 per cent have sought out professional advice.

Michael Johnston, Managing Partner at Carson McDowell, said: “There are clear trends and common themes which have been expressed in response to this survey.

Whilst it is encouraging to see that most businesses have started to prepare for Brexit, the lack of clarity is hampering how businesses are able to do so in a constructive and meaningful way. In the next 11 months the government will need to provide a level of detail and support that will allow local businesses to manage the risks and actively identify opportunities that may come in the post-Brexit environment.

We recommend that businesses proceed with contingency planning and seek relevant professional advice in order to prepare for all possible outcomes by the 29th of March 2019.”

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