Mon 30th Jan 2017
NI Chamber: Europe to remain key export market despite Brexit vote
Companies in Northern Ireland remain committed to strong trading relationships with European customers and suppliers despite the UK’s vote to leave the EU, according to the results of a major international trade survey released today (Monday 30 January 2017).
The results of the survey, which covers 12 regions of the UK, including Northern Ireland, and carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in partnership with Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber), show that the exporters surveyed continue to regard Europe as an important trading partner. Around three-quarters of respondents currently sell (76%) and source (73%) goods and services in the EU market.
The findings show that over a third (36%) of businesses plan on putting more resources into exporting to the European market over the next five years. Europe also remains the market where the higher percentage of businesses (18%) is planning on allocating more resources to sourcing products and services from.
Responding to a question assessing whether the EU referendum has influenced their approach to exporting, nearly a third (31%) of businesses surveyed are looking to export more. The majority (65%) say the EU referendum hasn’t changed their strategy for importing, while 15% say that they are interested in sourcing more internationally. However, there are signs of caution, with 13% looking to source less internationally, which may be as a result of the falling value of the pound making imports more expensive.
Thinking about future trade arrangements with Europe, UK companies surveyed consider the issues of tariffs; non-tariff barriers; and product standards, certification and compliance as the three top priorities for resolution in talks on a Brexit deal. Northern Ireland firms cited the issue of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as their biggest concern.
Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said:
“Although the outcome of the Brexit negotiations remains unclear, businesses still see Europe as a primary market for both selling and sourcing goods and services – even after the UK leaves the EU.
“Locally we are seeing evidence that some members are focused on expanding into new export markets in response to Brexit which is a real positive. Equally however we have members where the uncertainty created by Brexit has had an immediate and negative impact on business performance.
“Looking ahead, businesses want the best possible terms of trade following the Brexit negotiations, whatever the ultimate model adopted. Clarification on any sort of border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is crucial.”
Commenting on the survey, Shaun McAnee, MD Corporate Banking at Danske Bank which partners NI Chamber in its Export First programme, said:
“Exports are a key component of growing the local economy. Given our strong trading relationship with the Republic of Ireland, ease of access to the European single market is vitally important for Northern Ireland businesses. To protect the Northern Ireland economy it is important that this relationship is factored into any Brexit negotiations.”