The British Irish Chamber of Commerce has today urged small and medium-sized enterprises to urgently plan for a post-Brexit world with alterations to trading ties with the UK as it held its sixth #Agenda2018 seminar in Galway in association with KPMG and Ulster Bank today.
With over 40% of Irish SME exports going to the UK, regional business leaders and policymakers from both sides of the Irish Sea came together to address the significant challenges and limited opportunities that Brexit has brought for SMEs in the UK and Ireland. The #Agenda2018 event entitled ‘Supporting SMEs in a post-Brexit World’ was held in advance of Budget 2019 and within the scope of a critical period in Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK.
Speaking at the event, John McGrane, the Director General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the Irish economy, supporting 7 in 10 private sector jobs across every town and village in Ireland. Their success has been strongly dependent on exports to the UK.
“With the growing uncertainty surrounding Brexit negotiations, those trading links are now seriously at risk. Urgent action must be taken in the coming weeks by business leaders to plan and prepare for a change in their trading environment that will occur as a consequence of Brexit. Government can play a key enabling role by reducing the taxation burden on SMEs and fostering a competitive environment where our business leaders can thrive irrespective of the final outcome in Brexit negotiations.”
In her remarks, Shirley McCay, Director of Trade and Investment at the British Embassy Dublin said: “The UK is committed to maintaining and enhancing trade links between the regions on both sides of the Irish sea and I’m delighted to be here today to look beyond EU exit. Now more than ever, it is important that we explore new areas of cooperation to strengthen commercial ties and help Irish SMEs to establish themselves in the UK, while making sure British firms continue to have a powerful presence in Ireland. As the heart of Ireland’s vibrant medical technology ecosystem, Galway is a success story that speaks to the opportunities that businesses can harness by doing business in the UK and beyond.”
Aidan Scollard, Chair of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce SME Committee, and Partner at Roberts Nathan said: “The UK’s decision to leave the EU will have a significant effect on SMEs in both jurisdictions and it is imperative that both governments ensure that the strong trading links that have existed for hundreds of years are not unduly disrupted from April 2019 onwards. The livelihoods of many citizens in both countries rely on the development of these businesses and provide the basis for ever increasing consumer spending. Today’s event lays out a roadmap for businesses to prepare for all possible scenarios, so they can remain competitive into the future.”
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