Republic of Ireland news

Price hikes cited as the biggest Brexit concern by over 40% of businesses in Republic

The beginning of 2021 marked the end of the Brexit transition period, bringing an end to the free movement of goods between Britain and EU member states
James Ward, PA

More than two fifths of businesses in the Republic cited an increase in prices as their biggest Brexit concern in 2021, a new study has shown.

A survey carried out among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) found 42% reported price hikes as their biggest worry.

Difficulty in transporting goods to and from the UK was the second biggest Brexit concern, cited by 38% of SMEs.

Over a fifth, 21%, reported that a decline in business was their primary concern linked to the UK’s departure from the EU.

CSO statistician Sorcha O’Callaghan said: “In all sectors, 5% or less respondents believed that Brexit would have a positive impact on business in 2021.”

Despite this, the majority of SMEs, some 60%, admitted to taking no steps to prepare for Brexit.

Just 1% of businesses surveyed reported availing of Brexit-related financial support schemes from government.

Only 3% said they have started buying or selling into new markets.

New suppliers were sought by 13% of respondents, while 8% increased their preparedness for new custom procedures and duties.

But 60% said they have taken no steps.

Fears over rising prices are most acute in the construction sector, where 65% of businesses ranked it as their number one issue.

In the services sector, 38% of respondents reported that difficulty in transporting goods to and from the UK is their biggest concern, followed by an increase in prices, 36%, and a decline in business from UK customers, 26%.

Almost half of respondents, 47%, in industry reported that transporting goods to and from the UK is their biggest concern.

Businesses were also quizzed on what steps they had taken to mitigate the uncertainty created by Covid-19 and Brexit.

Almost two fifths of respondents, 39%, reported taking no steps.

Over a 10th, 11%, reported laying of workers as a result.

The most common response was pausing or cancelling investments, cited by 13% of enterprises, and implementing pay freezes, cited by another 13%.

Others reported increasing digitisation, cited by 12% of businesses.

In all sectors, 5% or less of those surveyed believed that Brexit would have a positive impact on their business in 2021

More than half of those in the wholesale and retail trade, 60%, and the industry sectors, 58%, believed that Brexit would have a negative impact on business in 2021.

The figure was 46% for respondents in the construction sector.

The online survey was sent to a sample of 8,000 businesses and the information was collected in the first quarter of 2021.

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