Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, today said it was deeply concerned at the increasingly definitive and hardline position of the UK government to Brexit. It said any move by the UK to unilaterally forge new global trade deals was at odds with membership of the current EU customs union and was a combative starting point to talks. Ibec said a UK departure from the customs union as it currently stands could seriously disrupt trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and deeply damage UK Irish economic relations.
Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: “The possibility of the UK leaving both the single market and the customs union raises fundamental questions about Ireland's future trading relations with the UK. A return to WTO rules would be a significant economic shock to the economy and would hit Irish exporters hard. It would also set the UK and Ireland on very different economic trajectories. In the interest of maintaining good business relations, it is vital that the UK Government sets out in more detail how the serious challenges presented by a hard Brexit might be addressed, including the impact on cross border trade on the island of Ireland.
“This is an aggressive move by the UK, showing little regard for our trading relationship and for relations with other EU member states. Theresa May has signalled a change to the UK business model, away from a collective European rules-based approach, towards a more nationalistic, isolated stance. This is likely to lead to a protracted and unwelcome period of uncertainty and instability for business. Ireland is uniquely exposed to the risks given out deep economic ties with the UK.
"The recent announcement by the UK government that it may dramatically slash corporation tax and cut regulation to boost its attractiveness to business post-Brexit highlights the competitive threat the UK is likely to pose. Ireland needs to respond to this challenge and ensure we maintain our attractiveness as a place to do business.
"Irish businesses are moving quickly to manage the competitive pressures of Brexit and plan for all eventualities, but an urgent, targeted national response is also required. A comprehensive immediate domestic response package is needed to safeguard Irish jobs and enterprises. Ireland must also play a central and constructive role in Brexit negotiations, and ensure our interests are forcefully represented."
- Brexit Priorities Report.pdf - 1,675 Kbytes