Half of Irish SMEs see EU market as more important than UK

China considered likely to be their main market by 18% of companies in next 15 years

The EU market is in the overall favourite (49 per cent) for Irish SMEs while the UK holds second place at 23 per cent. Photograph: iStock

The EU market is in the overall favourite (49 per cent) for Irish SMEs while the UK holds second place at 23 per cent. Photograph: iStock

 

More than twice the number of small and medium Irish businesses sees the EU as their most important market compared to the UK, a new survey has found.

Visa First, the Irish-based global migration specialist working with companies reliant on travelling for business, polled 100 SMEs to get their views on trade in a post-2016 world.

“The mood is, at the very least, one of uncertainty and caution,” it said in a week when the UK could finally push the Article 50 exit button unleashing unknown, yet daunting prospects for Irish-UK commerce.

“Travel and the feasibility to conduct trade between countries are at the heart of every organisation with an international focus – and anything that could impede that travel could have detrimental effects,” the company said, publishing its results on Monday.

While the EU market is in the overall lead (49 per cent), China was considered likely to play the most important role in the next 15 years by 18 per cent of SMEs surveyed. The UK held second at 23 per cent and the US, at 9 per cent, was in fourth position with Russia barely registering at 1 per cent.

Edwina Shanahan, managing director at VisaFirst.com, said the results “deviate slightly from what we have seen on the ground to date”.

Top visa destinations for Irish workers have been China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Nigeria, while from the UK it is China, Russia, India, Thailand, Vietnam and Algeria.