Local businesses can ‘soften the blow’ of Brexit

Brian MacAuley.
Brian MacAuley.

Brexit will transform the way we do business in Northern Ireland, a leading local business figure has said.

Dungannon Enterprise Centre CEO, Brian MacAuley, said: “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.”

He added “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.”