Irish business leaders want better trade relations with UK

Irish business leaders warn that relations with Ireland’s largest trading neighbour, the UK, need to improve in light of Brexit and the global Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

A significant majority (89pc) of business leaders believes the Irish Government needs to actively improve business and trade relations with the UK Government in the wake of both Brexit and the international vaccination rollout, according to the latest Director Sentiment Monitor survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland.

This finding echoes previous IoD research, conducted in September 2019, before the Brexit agreement was reached, that also found 89pc of business leaders were in favour of Ireland actively addressing improving relations with the UK.

“Business leaders are clear on the need for the Irish Government to actively improve business and trade relations with the UK”

The research also reveals that there is a 7pc increase, quarter-on-quarter, in the number of business leaders who anticipate opportunities for growth in both the domestic (57pc) and UK (23pc) markets.

Post-Brexit trade relations crucial

Blonde-haired business woman.

Maura Quinn, CEO, Institute of Directors in Ireland

Business leaders are split when asked whether the EU-UK ‘trade deal’ struck last December brings clarity to post-Brexit trade relations between Ireland and the UK, with 43pc agreeing that it brings clarity, 39pc saying it does not, and 19pc unsure.

Furthermore, a majority (66pc) of business leaders believes the effect of the current Government’s performance to date on consumer confidence has been negative, while 47pc say the impact of the current Government’s performance to date on their business decision-making has had ‘no effect’.

“While the lasting impact of Brexit and the trade deal is still too soon to assess, business leaders are clear on the need for the Irish Government to actively improve business and trade relations with the UK,” said Institute of Directors in Ireland CEO Maura Quinn.

“This feeling has remained constant even before the trade agreement, going back to our research on this in September 2019. Business leaders still feel there is scope for improving relations. This is especially important in a context where there is an increase in the number of business leaders who anticipate opportunities for growth in the UK.”

On the finding in relation to the Government’s impact on consumer confidence, Quinn commented: “In a context where the number of business leaders who anticipate opportunities for growth in the domestic market has increased quarter-on-quarter, the expected and hoped-for gradual easing of the restrictions over the coming months should have a positive impact on consumer confidence.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 29 April 2021

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