Department of the Taoiseach, British Embassy and European Economist brief over 200 attendees on National and European perspectives

The Irish Exporters Association (IEA), in association with William Fry, this morning held a Brexit Briefing Seminar to educate and inform IEA members and stakeholders of the potential implications of the ‘Leave’ outcome of the UK referendum on the 23rd June. Over 200 guests attended the event at William Fry, 2 Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2. Conor Brophy, RTÉ was MC for an extensive panel of speakers which included keynote addresses from Rory Montgomery, Second Secretary General, Department of the Taoiseach; Dominick Chilcott, British Ambassador to Ireland; Ana Boata, European Economist at Euler Hermes; Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament; and Bryan Bourke, Managing Partner at William Fry. The event also included a comprehensive Expert Advisory Panel discussion and briefings from industry speakers, such as Owen O’Byrne, Head of Product at Fire Financial Services Limited and Martin McVicar, MD of Combilift and the 2015 Exporter of the Year. Other speakers include AIB and Revenue.

At the event, Simon McKeever, Chief Executive of the IEA, announced results of a survey conducted with its members regarding Irish exporters’ sentiments given the outcome of the UK referendum.

Key Findings from the survey include:

  • 89% do business with, or export to, the UK
  • Weakened Sterling has had an impact on 65% of businesses
  • 68% did not plan to hedge Sterling before the referendum, this drops to 49% who do not plan to hedge Sterling following the referendum
  • 73% are concerned about currency volatility in the short term
  • Members surveyed are concerned about the following factors for their business:
    • 80% - The reintroduction of border controls (up from 73% in March 2016 survey)
    • 79% - Impact on Irish economic growth (down from 83% in March 2016 survey)
    • 76% - The reintroduction of customs procedures
    • 76% - Dual regulation
    • 70% - The reintroduction of tariffs (up from 61% in March 2016 survey)
    • 66% - Impact on free movement of people (up from 59% in March 2016 survey)
    • 54% - Impact on free movement of services (down from 59% in March 2016 survey)
    • 44% - Impact on jobs (down from 60% in March 2016 survey)
    • 41% - Impact on free movement of capital (down from 48% in March 2016 survey)
    • 34% - Increased competition in the UK market

To view a full breakdown of survey results, click here.

Rory Montgomery, Second Secretary General, Department of the Taoiseach said:"The effects of Brexit will be of immense importance for the UK itself, for Ireland North and South, and for the EU as a whole. The Government is giving the issue the highest priority. In shaping our negotiating position on the range of very complex questions which will arise, it will be essential to listen carefully to the views of business, and in particular those exporters who do major business with the UK."

Dominick Chilcott, British Ambassador to Ireland stated: “As Prime Minister May said yesterday, we must make a success of Brexit and ensure that we maximise the opportunities for both the UK and Ireland. These are uncertain times but there are reasons for optimism. Britain’s fundamental economic strengths have not disappeared overnight. We have one of the strongest advanced economies in the world and inflation remains low. Both governments are very conscious that we derive enormous benefit from the high volume of two-way trade that supports 400,000 jobs across our islands. These interests must be advanced and protected in the negotiations to come.”

Ana Boata, European Economist, Euler Hermes commented: “The UK’s exit from the EU is expected to have a significant negative impact on Ireland. There are two key downside risks for the trade in Irish goods. First, the potential for tariffs on Irish imports from the UK, a very important issue since Ireland is one of the very few EU countries to have a trade deficit with the UK. Secondly, lower demand for Irish exports, given the economic slowdown or even recession in the UK and the loss of purchasing power. The deterioration in the economic environment in the UK could in turn increase the risk of more insolvencies and late or non-payment for Irish businesses trading there. However, the longer term gain could include Dublin attracting significant investment flows from the UK.”

Simon McKeever, Chief Executive of the Irish Exporters Association commented:“The UK electorate has made the decision to leave the EU but to be clear, they actually haven’t left yet, and therefore nothing should change in the fundamental aspects of trade between Ireland and the UK until 2 years after the UK invokes article 50. The immediate impact has been the weakening of Sterling, which has fallen against the euro by 19% since mid-November and by 9% since the vote. In the medium term, a slowdown in the UK economy could mean less demand for Irish goods and services. It is crucial that exporters do an impact assessment, especially in relation to the exchange rate, and to look at their supply chains and the potential impact of changes in currency, customs, tariffs, VAT, visa requirements and EU regulations & legislation on them.

We are talking to our members and hearing their concerns, we will continue to support our members and lobby government on the issues that affect the Irish export industry. The survey results from our members today show 89% of our members are doing business with the UK. Weakened Sterling has impacted 65% of their businesses already with ¾’s of them saying that they are concerned about currency volatility in the short term. The most prominent concerns being expressed by our members are: the reintroduction of border controls (80%); the impact on Irish economic growth (79%); the reintroduction of customs procedures (76%); dual regulation, having to meet both EU and, potentially different, UK regulatory requirements (76%); and the reintroduction of tariffs (70%). 92% think that it will have a harmful impact on Irish exporters.”

Bryan Bourke, Managing Partner, William Fry commented: "This is a game changer event for Ireland and Irish businesses which poses major challenges and also creates opportunities. To overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities we have to be informed and prepared. That is why William Fry is joining forces with the Irish Exporters Association in bringing together expert voices from business and Government from Ireland, the UK and the EU to help Irish business with their Brexit planning."