The latest quarterly Business Monitor Report (July – September 2016) released today by InterTradeIreland paints a mixed economic picture that reflects a widespread nervousness and sense of uncertainty among the business community in Northern Ireland and Ireland.
While 32% of businesses still say they are growing, this figure is at its lowest level for 36 months. On the other hand, there has been a small increase in the numbers reporting that growth is declining pointing to more of a slowing in overall growth than any signs of contraction at this point. Sales figures also show a positive though declining balance.
32% of businesses reporting growth
45% of businesses report exchange rates as a key issue
97% of businesses across the island have no plans in place to deal with Brexit
80% of businesses say TV news is their only source of information on Brexit
Rising costs is the biggest issue now facing businesses pointing to the emergence of inflationary pressures. However, for those involved in cross-border trade and export activity, currency exchange rates between sterling and the Euro are the biggest issue they face, with 45% reporting it as a key issue. Surprisingly the issue is high for both Northern Ireland and Ireland exporters, indicating the strong supply chain linkages across the border.
The palpable sense of uncertainty is captured in the fact that almost the same amount of Northern Ireland businesses think a UK exit from the EU will have a negative impact on cross-border sales (23%) as those believing it will be positive (20%). In Ireland, almost half (46%) of firms believe cross-border sales will be negatively impacted with only 9% believing it will be positive.
Uncertainty is further reflected in the fact that 97% of businesses across the island have no plans in place to deal with a UK exit from the EU. 91% of cross-border traders have no experience dealing with tariffs and 80% of businesses still say TV news is their only source of information about Brexit.
Aidan Gough, Director of Strategy & Policy, InterTradeIreland said; “Against an economic backdrop that is slowing there is undoubtedly a role for InterTradeIreland to help businesses, primarily those small businesses that are, and have the potential, to trade across the border. It is clear that there are information gaps that are perhaps hindering their development planning.
“We will be holding breakfast briefings for SMEs where we will share advice and information to help them prepare for new trading relationships that emerge from Brexit negotiations. We will also be launching our Brexit Readiness vouchers which will offer SMEs financial support towards professional advice in areas such as sales and marketing, tariffs, currency management, regulation, tendering, finance, taxation, and employment law.”
For more information on InterTradeIreland and its business support programmes, please visit www.intertradeireland.com. A copy of the 2016 Q3 InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Executive Summary can be viewed at: http://www.intertradeireland.com/researchandpublications/business_monitor