Life af­ter Brexit: Rea­sons to be cheer­ful

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - 60 YEARS OF EUROPEAN UNITY - — David McGee

Based on re­cent CSO goods ex­port fig­ures for the cal­en­dar year 2016, Ir­ish ex­ports are split evenly be­tween the EU (51%) and non-EU (49%).

Of to­tal goods ex­ports to the EU, 78% is dom­i­nated by five coun­tries: Bel­gium ( 25%), UK ( 22%), Ger­many ( 13%), Nether­lands (10%), and France (8%).

Ul­ti­mately, the fu­ture for Ir­ish ex­porters af­ter Brexit will vary by sec­tor. The high- vol­ume, low- mar­gin agri- food sec­tor will face a harder time due to the per­isha­bil­ity of its prod­uct and longer lead times into con­ti­nen­tal Europe. This is in stark con­trast to the fu­ture of data pro­cess­ing and soft­ware and the ease with which such prod­ucts and ser­vices can tran­scend in­ter­na­tional bor­ders.

We have a re­silient ex­port­ing sec­tor and, as the world emerges postBrexit, we an­tic­i­pate see­ing Ir­ish ex­porters hav­ing em­braced in­no­va­tion like never be­fore and hav­ing suc­cess­fully pen­e­trated new mar­kets. They’ll have found a new equi­lib­rium.

Brexit will have pre­sented the op­por­tu­nity to re­ally look at busi­ness mod­els to be­come more com­pet­i­tive. It will have pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity to look at pro­cesses, prod­ucts, costs, sup­pli­ers, over­heads, tax struc­tur­ing, and so on.

The in­fra­struc­ture sec­tor sup­port­ing the ex­port sec­tor will also have adapted, in­clud­ing con­nec­tions, cargo hubs, etc. With the help of Gov­ern­ment, En­ter­prise Ire­land, Bord Bia, and other agen­cies hav­ing opened doors, Ir­ish firms will have an even greater global foot­print.

While Brexit will cause a shake-up, it will bring op­por­tu­ni­ties. The UK will re­main a very im­por­tant world­wide econ­omy and trad­ing part­ner of the EU.

When the dust set­tles, Ir­ish ex­porters will reap the ben­e­fits of ser­vic­ing new mar­kets in the EU and fur­ther afield. And many will con­tinue to com­pete suc­cess­fully in the UK on a new level play­ing field.

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