Brexit ‘won’t just be a short, sharp shock for Irish businesses’

Warning that Irish companies still dragging their heels when it comes to preparations

People arrive at the US embassy’s economic conference in Dublin, on Thursday. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

People arrive at the US embassy’s economic conference in Dublin, on Thursday. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Brexit won’t be a short, sharp shock for Irish businesses but will cause considerable difficulties for years, according to a leading executive at one of the State’s largest employers.

Mark Lloyd Davies, a senior director at pharma giant Johnson & Johnson, which employs 2,200 people in the Republic, predicted that there would be a “five-year curve of pain to recover from Brexit” with hundreds of millions in euro in extra cost for his company alone.

“According to our own assessment, it could be 2025 that is the most difficult year for our business. Companies are looking at prolonged pain,” he said.

Dr Davies was speaking at a panel on the impact of Brexit at an event held by US embassy Dublin on Thursday.

He said Irish businesses should “prepare as if there will be no deal”, rather than wasting time wondering what type of Brexit may be agreed.

His views were echoed by David McGee, a partner with PwC Ireland, who warned that many Irish companies still aren’t paying enough attention to Brexit.

Fantasy

“The idea that Brexit is a bump in the road and that all will be fine is a fantasy. Organisations need to be planning for it,” he said.

Mr McGee said that, while he knew of some companies that had been preparing for Brexit ever since the vote for Britain to leave the European Union was announced, he was also getting calls now from other organisations that were only now beginning to consider its impact on their business.

Robert Faucher, a former deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Dublin and now director of the Office of Western European Affairs within the US state department, said the US “was eager to move as quickly as possible” towards a deal with the UK based on World Trade Organisation rules.

“The UK model is probably the closest to ours in Europe and so it is likely relatively easy to achieve a deal with it. However, even the quickest agreements made under WTO usually take at least three years,” he said.