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Cross-border body warns ignoring Brexit may prove costly for SMEs


Firms in Northern Ireland have been accused of "ignoring" Brexit.

Firms in Northern Ireland have been accused of "ignoring" Brexit.

PA Wire/PA Images

Firms in Northern Ireland have been accused of "ignoring" Brexit.

Most firms in Northern Ireland are "ignoring" Brexit with potentially costly implications in the aftermath, according to research.

InterTradeIreland said just 6% of cross-border traders are prepared for cash flow and liquidity issues in the event of a no-deal departure.

And just 6% of those questioned for the cross-border body's research said they have examined the possible legal implications on business contracts when the UK leaves the EU.

But InterTradeIreland said that unless they act now the consequences of market access changes mean businesses here could be exposed to significant additional cost.

The figures were released as the trade and business body launched a new campaign to encourage traders to plan for Brexit now.

Aidan Gough, InterTradeIreland's designated officer and director of strategy and policy, said: "Ignoring Brexit is a bigger issue than not preparing for it.

"Failing to take into account how it may impact your business could be very detrimental down the line.

"We want to reach as many SMEs as possible to help them prepare, that's why InterTradeIreland is launching our new campaign.

"This will be a significant departure for InterTradeIreland. It recognises that Brexit is the 'elephant in the room' and, with the deadline of October 31 fast approaching, Brexit is now just too big to brush under the carpet. We think this approach and striking visuals will resonate with busy firms on many levels."

To aid businesses InterTradeIreland will also offer 'Bitesize Brexit', a new online space for cross-border traders in a "very digestible format".

Mr Gough explained the site contains all the information and actions that businesses can take now in relation to Brexit.

He said: "At the moment there are around 20,000 cross-border traders on the island of Ireland.

"A substantial proportion of these are micro-businesses, particularly vulnerable to changes in current trading arrangements, and are more likely to be reliant on the cross-border market as their only export destination."

Other findings in the research showed that less than one in 10 businesses have taken steps to "interrogate their supply chain", while only 12% of SMEs have looked at the possible impact hard Brexit tariffs could have on their business.

IntertradeIreland's warning comes just days after CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said anxiety levels among businesses in Northern Ireland were worse than anywhere else in the UK.

She said CBI members here "are prepared but there's a limit to how prepared they can be".

Belfast Telegraph