Cross-Border Business Blog

Posted by Thomas Hunter McGowan on March 7, 2016

A British Exit from European Union - more barriers to overcome?

'A British exit from Europe could mean rowing back on a lot of the positive work and progress that has been achieved over the past number of years on all-island trade.'

Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another European Union member state - the Republic of Ireland. Since 1995 the value of cross- border trade has doubled. Unravelling the economic impact on the Northern Ireland region from the rest of the UK makes a challenging position impossible. What is clear however is that anything that hinders the free flow of goods and services will have a negative economic impact on both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

InterTradeIreland works closely with the two Governments in both Northern Ireland and Ireland and indeed the wider EU Community to ensure that the proper structures and supports are in place to support economic development and foster greater cross-border trade across the island of Ireland.  To this end, we have made significant progress in creating a positive economic environment resulting in strengthened trade links and cross-border trade worth over £2.6bn/€3billion annually.

For over fifteen years InterTradeIreland has worked as a cross-border agency on an all-island basis enhancing North South trade relationships, despite different trading environments, to help SMEs deliver sustained cross-border trading growth to the benefit of both economies. The myriad of systemic links across the border has generated synergies and facilitated the growth of the economies in both jurisdictions.

A British exit from Europe could mean rowing back on a lot of the positive work and progress that has been achieved over the past number of years on all-island trade. It could also potentially add additional barriers and obstacles for SMEs from Northern Ireland trading into Ireland and vice-versa which is something that we believe could be bad for business by creating added pressures and impact negatively on future growth plans.

Nobody can predict with certainty what the actual effects of an exit vote would be with experts differing and giving opinions that range from positive to very bad but a remain vote removes this uncertainty and allows companies to stay on ground that they are familiar with and continue to plan ahead for the development of their business to progress and prosper.

We feel that Northern Ireland’s business community and economy stands to benefit more from being inside the EU. It is the firmly held view of InterTradeIreland that there are no positive outcomes for Northern Ireland from Britain leaving the European Union.

No matter what the outcome is on the 23rd June, InterTradeIreland will be part of the solution going forward and we are well placed to help SMEs from Northern Ireland and Ireland to continue to grow their businesses and explore new markets as part of our cross-border trade remit and responsibility.

About the Author

Thomas joined InterTradeIreland in 2012 as Chief Executive Officer and is based at the InterTradeIreland offices in Newry. Prior to this appointment he worked for a short period with Kildare County Council and the Local Government Efficiency Group but is best known for successfully running Swansea Cork Ferries Ltd as Managing Director for eighteen years where he was also the majority shareholder. He was a board member of the Cork Chamber of Commerce and served for two terms on the board of Chambers Ireland. He was also a board member on a number of other companies and bodies.

Thomas holds a Bachelor of Commerce from University College Dublin and a Master of Commerce from University College Cork. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators. 

Coming next month: 5 tips to help you prepare and get your business plan right for investors by Connor Sweeney