#ExportsToUK - In order to prepare for a hard Brexit, Enterprise Ireland is advising firms here amid growing signs the British government may opt to quit the single market in order to regain full control over immigration.
The Irish Times writes the agency’s chief executive, Julie Sinnamon, said it would be “foolish” to do otherwise given the current signals from Downing Street.
She was speaking in the wake of UK prime minister Theresa May’s suggestion that Britain would not attempt to cling on to “bits of EU membership” in its negotiations with Brussels.
“Irrespective of Theresa May’s comments, we have to prepare for the worst. And if it becomes a softer Brexit, then we’re in a stronger position,” Ms Sinnamon said at the publication of Enterprise Ireland’s latest annual report.
A key plank of the agency’s Brexit strategy was getting companies to look at new market opportunities while consolidating their position in the UK market, she said.
The UK’s share of Irish exports has fallen from 45 per cent to 37 per cent in the past decade, and this trend will likely be accelerated by Brexit, Ms Sinnamon said.
She also confirmed that a number of high-profile businesses in the agri-food sector here were now being courted by UK agencies about the possibility of setting up operations there in the wake of Brexit.
The Republic’s €10 billion food sector is the most vulnerable to Brexit with more than half of the State’s food output going to the UK.
“At this stage, companies are not saying we’re closing up shop and going [to the UK], but I’ve no doubt that the UK will get their act together and really begin to proactively try and attract more companies there,” she said, noting that a disparity in state aid constraints in the wake of Brexit would make things more competitive.
For more on jobs created by Enterprise Ireland and its annual report click here.