Brexit: Just one-in-three north west firms feel ready for January 1

The border crossing area on the main road into Muff village in Co Donegal from Derry. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin.
Ryan McAleer

JUST one-in-three firms in the north-west say they feel ready for the end of the Brexit transition, according to a new survey.

With less than six months until the Northern Ireland protocol comes into effect on January 1, Derry Chamber asked businesses in the area for their view.

Almost four-in-five (78 per cent) have made no preparations for Brexit, while 71 per cent said the UK Government had not engaged enough with businesses from the north, or helped them prepare with changes and impact of Brexit.

It comes after a report from the Commons’ Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee criticised the UK Government for leaving local businesses in the dark over its approach to post-Brexit trading and customs arrangements.

The Derry Chamber survey found that some north-west companies had already set up operations and moved some services across the border. One-in-five said they had lost opportunities because of Brexit.

Chief executive Paul Clancy said the research painted “a deeply worrying picture”. He said the Covid-19 pandemic had left businesses with little or no capacity to deal with another crisis.

“Our members are financially and resourcefully drained, but they are also totally in the dark about what is required of them come 1 January 2021.

“Our survey again reiterates one crucial point – businesses need urgent clarity. Our members are uninformed and unprepared for what the next six months may bring.”

The chamber chief also called on the Northern Ireland Office to publish the terms of reference of its Business Engagement Forum.

“If this is the main body through which businesses here are engaging with the UK Government on Brexit issues, then it must be a priority to have North West representation on it to give our region a voice at the table, given our proximity to the Republic of Ireland and our members’ reliance on cross-border trade and business.”

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