Businesses in Tyrone and Mid Ulster can 'soften the blow' of Brexit

In the first of a series of blogs ahead of the final arrangements for Britain's exit from the EU, Dungannon Enterprise Centre CEO, Brian MacAuley, reflects on how the local economy will be transformed by the process and ways in which businesses in the Tyrone and Mid Ulster area can mitigate against the impact.

"As a business there is always the feeling that Brexit is not going to happen or, like the much-anticipated Y2K technological phenomenon at the turn of the century, it’s going to be a non-event.

The reality, however, is that Brexit is going to transform the way we do business in the future. No one in Northern Ireland will be unaffected, simply because of the economic, political and social ties with the Republic, our neighbouring EU state.

"The economies are tied together at so many levels and, like it or not, this is going to change; to what extent, is anyone’s guess at this stage.

"Those of us that were about pre-1992 will remember the Customs stops, the delays at the border and the paperwork that had to be completed, (more often than not by a Customs clearance agent). While we can all hope for the best in that we never return to those days, it would be wise to plan for the worst.

"In terms of post-Brexit cross-border co-operation, that will require sanction by the Westminster government, but, in reality, will this goodwill be granted and, if so, to what extent?

"Given that economic forecasts predict there will be a significant increase in Dublin-bound traffic in the future, any sanctions will make an impact upon this. Perhaps, then, we could look at examples of cross-border arrangements such as those in Norway/Sweden or France/Switzerland for inspiration.

"The economic impact of Brexit, particularly in Mid Ulster and in the border areas of County Tyrone, cannot be underestimated and there are things that we, as business owners and those involved in encouraging enterprise, can do to pave the way for a smoother exit from the EU.

"To illustrate our dependence on the cross-border economy in Ireland, InterTradeIreland’s Director of Strategy and Policy, Aidan Gough, recently revealed that in the space of one month, 177,000 lorries, 205,000 vans and over 1.8 million cars will cross the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"In one day, it is estimated that 30,000 people make the cross-border commute to work. These lorries, vans, cars and people are involved in a trade in goods and services that now totals close to €6 billion a year, growing at an average annual rate over the past twenty years at over four per cent.

"Yet there are some sensible steps that businesses can take at this stage in the process and which could even soften the blow if we end up with a “hard Brexit”.

 

A “War Fund”

Whatever happens in the future, change costs money. Businesses that start building a reserve now for that rainy Brexit day will be able to adapt quicker to changes than those businesses hoping for a soft Brexit.

 

Human Resources

Some businesses will be employing staff that hold passports from other EU countries. Others will be hoping to recruit from EU countries.

If it is a critical part of your business, you should start considering what you would do if recruitment was hindered by more regulations and explore options to mitigate against it. For example, I know of some manufacturing businesses that are considering increasing their automation and reducing their dependency upon personnel. Others are exploring the potential of relocating part of their business in an EU country.

 

Logistics

If there are border restrictions post-Brexit, consider how you will get your products to European markets or how you will procure materials from an EU state.

 

Currency

We are all well aware of the dangers of currency fluctuations so it is important to have a system to watch for changes in the Euro, hedging against changes and ensuring that the time between quoting and receiving payment is kept to a minimum.

 

Information on local business training events and sources of assistance in the Mid Ulster area can be found here on Dungannon Enterprise Centre’s website, and via our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

Website: Concept NI Web Solutions

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