Where will the money go after Brexit? It’s all up in the air

In the battle to attract investment into Ireland, it may be a case of win some, lose some

Frank Mee, president of Insurance Ireland: said one of the challenges is to hold on to insurance jobs and investment that is already in Ireland, as well as attracting new business. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Frank Mee, president of Insurance Ireland: said one of the challenges is to hold on to insurance jobs and investment that is already in Ireland, as well as attracting new business. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

 

The focus in the public debate on Brexit in relation to financial services is all about what investment we can attract in to Ireland. Some major companies, based in London, are setting up headquarters in the EU, to be sure that they can do business in EU markets after Brexit. Ireland is in the mix for a lot of these investments, though we have lost out on a few in the early running, including Lloyds of London.

However, the thing about Brexit is that it will send investment in many sectors both into and out of Ireland. A big battle for cash and jobs is on the way. Frank Mee of Allianz Worldwide Care, president of Insurance Ireland, underlined at Monday’s industry annual lunch that one of the challenges was to hold on to insurance jobs and investment that was already in Ireland, as well as attracting new business. This will involve persuading international insurers that, in terms of issues such as regulation and infrastructure, Ireland is a good place to keep investing.

Wider picture

This is part of a wider picture which crosses across many sectors, albeit all with their own peculiarities. International companies with investments in Ireland will be looking at their spread of investments. Some will want to establish new operations or move resources to the UK, and some will look to move resources into EU markets, including Ireland. Much will depend on where they do business – and where they plan to consolidate operations in future.

For manufacturers, the trend will be for Irish players that do a lot of business in Britain to establish or acquire operations there – to avoid the threat of tariff and customers barriers. And British manufacturers with big sales into Ireland may consider establishing – or acquiring – here for the same reason. In short, a lot of things are going to get thrown up in the air.

The problem for businesses is that a softer Brexit, were it to transpire, would make a lot of this unnecessary. But it could be next year before the shape of Brexit becomes clearer – unless the talks crash in the meantime. And by then it would be too late to move for many ahead of Britain’s exit early the following year.

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