Belfast Telegraph

Businesses keeping Brexit plans on hold amid trade uncertainty, study shows

Firms are still holding off making contingency plans to deal with Brexit as they wait for more clarity from the Government, a new study reveals.

A survey of 1,000 business leaders showed that most have made plans, but only one in 10 have started implementing them.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) said its research found that almost one in five firms did not know how EU law affected them and a third do not understand what moving to WTO rules would mean for EU-UK trade.

IoD director general Stephen Martin said un certainty over the UK's future trading status with the EU continued to rank among companies' top concerns.

He said: "While businesses are preparing for Brexit, most have not made any concrete changes yet, so there is still a window of opportunity for the Government to convince them to hold off triggering contingency plans.

"Some changes and costs are inevitable no matter how we leave the EU, but the more information the Government can provide on the process of Brexit, the more companies will be reassured they do not have to jump to relocate staff or operations.

"Given the need for businesses to be able to adjust to trade and migration-related changes, bridging arrangements to any new free trade agreement, and a phased implementation of that agreement, are essential.

"We do not expect the Government to reveal its negotiating strategy and recognise that it is not within their gift to deliver full clarity and certainty now.

"However, we need to have a full and frank discussion with all negotiating parties on what transition looks like, well in advance of March 2019."

A Government spokeswoman said: " We have been clear that we are determined to deliver a successful outcome from our negotiations with the EU, one that works for businesses across the UK.

"Since the referendum we have engaged extensively with businesses across the economy, listening to a huge number of views on the challenges and opportunities arising from our EU exit.

"We know that businesses want as much certainty as possible as we move through the exit process. That is why we have recently announced we are stepping up our dialogue with business to ensure we are hearing their views loud and clear and have the best backdrop possible for our negotiations."