Many businesses not prepared for Brexit, Government warns

Report urges firms doing trade with UK to diversify their markets and avail of supports

Tánaiste and Minister for Business Frances Fitzgerald, who briefed the Cabinet on the report, “Building Stronger Business”, on Tuesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Tánaiste and Minister for Business Frances Fitzgerald, who briefed the Cabinet on the report, “Building Stronger Business”, on Tuesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Many businesses are not prepared for Brexit, the Government will warn on Thursday when it launches a report urging firms to accelerate their preparations and avail of Government supports and assistance.

The report will highlight the dangers facing businesses that have not prepared for potentially dramatic changes in their markets and trading conditions, though it will also stress the opportunities that Brexit will bring for some businesses.

The Government will urge businesses that do all or most of their trade with the UK to diversify their markets and avail of Government supports to target exports markets inside and outside the EU.

Tánaiste and Minister for Business Frances Fitzgerald briefed the Cabinet on Tuesday and Ministers held a lengthy discussion on preparations for Brexit, the Government spokesman said on Tuesday night.

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The report, Building Stronger Business, will lay out extensive supports being put in place to help businesses deal with a post-Brexit marketplace, and also detail sectoral studies in areas most affected by Brexit.

Government’s plans

It will set out the Government’s plans to help businesses to prepare under three headings: helping firms compete (including providing access to finance), helping firms innovate (including providing research and development funding), and supporting firms to trade. It will also insist the Government is negotiating for the best possible Brexit agreement between the EU and the UK.

However, the report will be launched against the backdrop of worsening prospects for Brexit following the failure of the EU and the UK to achieve “sufficient progress” in the first phase of the talks, as judged by last month’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

UK ’s bill

UK and EU negotiators under Michel Barnier are preparing to restart talks in Brussels this week in an attempt to make progress on the first phase of the negotiations. The EU side is seeking further progress on the rights of EU citizens in Britain after Brexit and on the size of the bill the UK must pay on leaving to cover its ongoing EU liabilities.

The two sides admit good progress on Northern Ireland issues, but unless they reach further agreement, especially on the UK’s bill, the EU will refuse to move on to the next phase of the negotiations, covering trade, by Christmas.

Observers warn this could lead to a breakdown of the talks, bringing nearer the prospect of the UK crashing out of the EU in 2019. This would almost certainly mean tariffs between the UK and EU, and a customs Border in Ireland.