This information may help you understand the potential risk to your business from Brexit.
A report previously published by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation found that potential changes to the free movement of goods has caused the most concern for businesses. Other key concerns include the imposition of tariffs such as higher costs, reestablishment of a physical border which could cause delays in delivery, absence of common areas, restrictions to cross-border services and the risk that technical specifications may diverge over time.
The same report identified high concerns relating to dairy, beverages, fisheries, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and wholesale sectors. The cost of imported goods is likely to increase as a result of tariffs and export prices are likely to fall, both of which could reduce demand for goods and services. The risk of tariffs threatens competitiveness, e.g. concerns in the dairy sector reflect that the UK is Ireland’s biggest export market for cheese. The dairy sector also operates on low margins and is particularly sensitive to price changes.
Firms in the Republic of Ireland tend to be more export-oriented than firms in Northern Ireland, with micro and small firms playing a significant role in cross-border trade. Many small firms tend to regard the whole island of Ireland as one local market, rather than two different jurisdictions. Firms in Northern Ireland are more likely to export to the Republic of Ireland than to Great Britain and there is a high level of supply chain integration. Brexit poses a greater threat to small firms trading across the border than to larger firms with wider sales markets.
The prospect of a physical border causes particular concern for SMEs operating in the border counties and north-west. These concerns include delays in delivery times, particularly for goods with a short shelf-life. The cost of transporting through alternative delivery routes and processing additional paperwork are also concerns, and there is a threat that increased black market activity (e.g. smuggled goods) could negatively impact legitimate businesses. The absence of a common area may threaten the supply of milk from Northern Ireland. The perishable nature of such goods also makes them particularly vulnerable to border/transportation delays. The absence of common fishing grounds could afford the UK fleet an unfair advantage if they were to operate under different regulations. The energy sector could also be impacted by any adverse change to the all-island energy market.
Government strategy has focused on supporting firms to trade, helping them to compete, enabling innovation and negotiating for the best possible outcome. Information about the wide range of technical, financial and advisory support provided by the Government can be found here.