Belfast Telegraph

Small business Brexit fears 'are growing'

By Margaret Canning

Around a third of exporting small businesses fear their overseas sales will decline as a result of the UK leaving the EU, according to research today.

And the Federation of Small Businsesses (FSB) said the research highlighted the need for a strong Northern Ireland voice in Brexit negotiations so that small business interests are supported.

The research was carried out following the Prime Minister's speech last week, in which she stressed that the UK would leave the single market and the customs union in its present form.

The FSB said the fears of small businesses highlighted that Northern Ireland needed a strong Executive to negotiate to secure the best possible access to the single market, and to address issues concerning the border with the Republic. Their research found that 32% of small firms are engaged in overseas trade as an exporter or importer.

FSB Northern Ireland policy chair Wilfred Mitchell said: "Small business exports have been on the rise since the referendum, with the lower value of the pound making UK goods and services more competitive.

"As the UK leaves the single market any new agreement must maintain the current ease of trade with the EU and not lead to additional administrative or financial burdens.

"In order to boost our competitive stance in the global market, there needs to be an enhancement of specific support for small exporters to reach new customers and to negotiate ambitious trade deals with large and emerging markets. This should be the priority of the Northern Ireland Executive."

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