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Cork Independent

Business & Professional

Brexit fears? LEOs can help

Thursday, 12th September, 2019 8:37am

By Kevin Curran, Head of Enterprise, Cork County Council

The decision of the UK following a popular referendum to initiate the Article 50 process to leave the EU has led to a period of sustained uncertainty for the entire business community here in Cork and throughout the country. Having extended the withdrawal period to 31 October, this date now looms large.

While the importance of the UK to us, as a market, has lessened in recent years it still represents a significant end destination for Irish exports. Here in Cork the importance of the UK for our food and tourism industries is well known and understood. Ireland is also a significant export market for UK goods and services.

Business has struggled to understand what the implications will be, particularly as the constant deal/no deal uncertainty drags on.

Analysis and assistance from the various State and local government agencies has focused on a number of areas with the caveat that the final solution set will be unclear until both the implementation of the Article 50 withdrawal agreement (assuming there is an agreement) and the future post-Brexit trade and other relationships are clarified.

There is a natural temptation to think that until all of this is clarified one way or another, you might be better off waiting and seeing.

Failing to prepare is not an option. It is possible right now to identify issues of concern or change, regardless of the type of exit that the UK makes.

The following nine areas of concern have been highlighted and Irish businesses have been encouraged to use these as prompts for both self-analytical forward planning as well as engaging with the various support agencies.

An online Brexit Scorecard has been developed to aid enterprises in identifying which areas in particular will impact most on their individual business practices.

· UK market dynamics – possible market contraction; buy British campaigns; third country access to UK market via new UK bilateral trade deals

· Currency – increased volatility, delays to decision making because of uncertainty

· Customers – impact on individual customers which can lead to both challenges and opportunities

· Competition – expect new and increased competition

· Sourcing – its impact on cost, certainty and quality; high dependence on UK distributors with UK and IRL traditionally looked upon as one market

· Transport and logistics – established transport routes may no longer be optimal; new facilities in Dublin and Rosslare ports to cope with customs and queuing

· Regulations and standards – may change for exporting to and importing from the UK

· Customs, tariffs and taxation – may see an increase in administration, cost and time

· Movement of people – possible restrictions.

I would encourage every business owner to have a look at www.prepareforbrexit.com and complete this online Brexit Scorecard to highlight what it may mean for your business and then seek appropriate assistance/advice.

There may also be issues that affect services such as insurances currently underwritten by UK based insurers and all consumers may face some changes when using online shopping platforms that are UK-based.

For the marine/fishing sectors there are some additional challenges. The Common Fisheries policy with its basis in mutual access to respective fishing grounds will face changes.

On a purely Irish/UK basis, the recent flaring of tension regarding waters around Rockall as well as other issues regarding Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle may be more difficult to resolve in the absence of a pan-European mechanism.

As an island nation we are uniquely dependent on sea transport for trade with much of this trade routed to or through the UK. Regardless of the type of post-Brexit regime, the UK will be a third country for trade purposes with consequential procedural, if not physical, barriers. The recent decision to acquire land and develop facilities for customs and queuing facilities in Dublin and Rosslare ports is testament to this.

Proposals for new shipping routes between Dublin and Cork and Zeebrugge and Antwerp in Belgium, as well as Rotterdam in the Netherlands are to be strongly welcomed to facilitate enhanced access to the important export markets of mainland Europe.

So on a practical level, what are we here in Cork County Council’s Local Enterprise Office offering in the way of assistance?

As mentioned above, the first steps must be taken by you the business owner. You need to ask yourself if your business may be affected and the online tool at www.prepareforbrexit.com is an easy and ideal way of doing this.

No one knows your business like you do so this first step is up to you.

If this has flagged areas of concern, and even if it has not and you want some advice/assurance please contact us.

What we can offer is:

· Scorecards and checklists to help with planning

· One-to-one mentoring - come to one of our free Brexit advice clinics

· Customs, specialist training and consultancy

· Financial supports

· Access to worldwide support networks

· Dedicated Brexit events

Running a small or micro business is challenging, more so in these uncertain times.

Have a look at our webpage detailing the various workshops, clinics and programmes: www.localenterprise.ie/CorkNorthandWest/Training-Events/Online-Bookings/.

The team of the Local Enterprise Office, Cork North and West, as well as the teams in all of the local authority LEOs throughout the country, are waiting to take your call and help in whatever way we can.

Contact Local Enterprise Office, Cork North & West at:

8, Kent Street, Clonakilty, P85 PH39, 023-8834700 and at westcork@leo.corkcoco.ie and Mallow Business Park, Gouldshill, Mallow, P51 K3CX, (022-43235) and at northcork@leo.corkcoco.ie.

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