Canadian firms see Brexit as ‘major opportunity’ for Ireland

However survey by Irish-Canada business group highlights concerns about housing and broadband

Brown Thomas is among the members of the Ireland Canada Business Association. Photograph: Eric Luke

Brown Thomas is among the members of the Ireland Canada Business Association. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Canadian firms see Brexit as a “major opportunity” for the Republic to attract business away from the UK, according to a survey by the Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA).

Responding to the survey, some 90 per cent of Irish-based Canadian companies said they believe that, as the only English-speaking member of the EU, the State is “uniquely placed as the alternative gateway to Europe for multinationals currently based in the UK”.

The firms, which include Brown Thomas, Air Canada, Shopify, Irving Oil and Voxpro, however, believe a second UK referendum should be held to unlock the current Westminster impasse.

They also highlighted concerns about ongoing bottlenecks in housing and broadband here, suggesting they posed a serious threat to inward investment.

Canadian firms operating in the Republic employ around 13,000 people, and recent IDA figures show there was a near 70 per cent increase in inward investment from Canada in the year after the Brexit referendum vote.

Over 60 per cent of firms surveyed by ICBA said they believed the Government and the IDA were performing well at promoting Ireland as an alternative to the UK, but called for more resources for promotion to Canadian firms specifically.

On the downside, they suggested Ireland’s attractiveness as a place to do business was being “seriously hampered” by the the current housing crisis.

They also called for the long-awaited National Broadband Plan to be fast-tracked, citing recent research showing high-speed broadband boosted business productivity by up to a third.

Opportunities

While noting the opportunities presented by Brexit, most of the firms said they believe it could hike up the costs of the doing business here through increased tariffs and higher administration costs.

Some 60 per cent also said they feared Brexit could dent Irish consumer confidence and increase pressure on housing and infrastructure, while half believed there would be increased competition for hiring talent.

“The value of Canada to the Irish economy is currently very significant, but the untapped potential is vast,” the ICBA’s executive director Kate Hickey said.

“The ICBA’s membership has trebled in recent years and now stands at over 100 members. Canadian multinationals in Ireland want to stay here and grow,” she said.

“ Couple that with Ireland’s potential to attract companies away from the UK due to Brexit, and it is clear that we have a major economic opportunity,” she added.