27 July 2016

  |  CBI Northern Ireland


89% of local organisations believe that Brexit will have a greater economic impact on Northern Ireland than the UK as a whole

This week's post-Brexit seminar (26 July 2016), organised by the CBI in Northern Ireland, was attended by more than 100 local business leaders from a range of industry sectors including agri-foods, ICT, energy, and manufacturing,

89% of local organisations believe that Brexit will have a greater economic impact on Northern Ireland than the UK as a whole

Prospective changes to taxation, currency values and trade costs were among key issues examined by the expert panels of speakers, including Angela McGowan, Danske Bank Chief Economist; Nigel Harra, Senior Partner at professional business advisory firm BDO Northern Ireland; and Michael Neill, Partner at commercial law firm A&L Goodbody Northern Ireland.

An opening poll revealed that 89% of respondents believed that Brexit will have a greater economic impact on Northern Ireland than the UK as a whole. 92% of participants believed the impact of Brexit will be negative on the Northern Ireland economy over the next 5 years.

Organisations that are engaged and adaptable will be best placed to thrive in the post-Brexit economy – and today’s event was designed to help local companies respond to the initial market reaction and begin to understand the process for leaving the European Union and the benefits and difficulties of the current alternative relationship models.

David Gavaghan, CBI Northern Ireland Chair, said:

“Many businesses in Northern Ireland are asking what Brexit means for them and critically what to do now. For the majority of our members they highlighted the benefits of a single market and ready access to labour and talent.  Whatever the actual outcome of the negotiations over the next period, our members recognise the fundamental need to get on with it. Our collective job now is to usher in a new era of partnership between the Northern Ireland Executive, business and society more generally. We need to work together to identify the key economic priorities and ensure that we do everything we can within our power to make this a great place to invest and do business – recognising the central role of our principal cities to attract productive investment will be important.

Crucial to this will be improving the pace of delivery. The foundations of our economy here in Northern Ireland and across these two islands remain the fundamental need to invest in skills, innovate industries and infrastructure – creating a globally competitive environment for businesses to thrive, generating tens of thousands of additional jobs which in turn will  build a more prosperous society for all our citizens.  There are undoubtedly significant hurdles to overcome in the immediate future but already we are seeing businesses rise to the challenge.”

Nigel Harra, Senior Partner at BDO Northern Ireland said:

“The people of the United Kingdom have voted in favour of leaving the EU. While the result of the referendum may not be favourable to some, organisations need to be preparing and equipping themselves for changes in a number of key areas.  Businesses in Northern Ireland are resilient and have previously adapted well to major social and political change. While we do not know exactly what lies ahead, we do know for certain that the UK will be leaving the EU and we must be confident in our ability to adjust.

“Many businesses are nervous about the about the long-term implications of the UK leaving the EU in the months and years ahead, but for now the demand for local goods and services has not disappeared. Our trade partners have not lost confidence in our expertise and experience. On the whole, we remain competitive and must use this time to take stock of how we can best adapt to a changing trading environment.”

Michael Neill, Partner at A&L Goodbody Northern Ireland commented:

“Brexit will undoubtedly have significant implications for Northern Ireland in the years ahead. Alongside advising clients in relation to their immediate concerns, we are currently working closely with clients across a range of sectors to help them understand the challenges, but also the opportunities that face their businesses in the longer term. 

“From a legal perspective, many of the changes arising from Brexit will likely evolve over time. These changes will affect companies selling goods and services between the UK and the EU, including regulated finance, energy, procurement and employment law as well as many others. 

"Despite the current uncertainty, there are many steps which businesses in Northern Ireland can take now to plan and organise themselves for the legal changes and business issues that lie years ahead.”

Angela McGowan, Chief Economist at Danske Bank said

“The changing economic environment presents both challenges and opportunities for both local businesses and policy makers.  Flexibility, collaboration and a relentless focus on growth and competitiveness will be needed in the months ahead.  Businesses should now be looking at their own business models and assessing how best to adapt that model in light of this new and changing environment.”


Caption L-R: Nigel Smyth, CBI; Steven Altmann-Richer, CBI; David Gavaghan, CBI Chair; Angela McGowan, Danske Bank; Michael Neill, A&L Goodbody; Nigel Harra, BDO Northern Ireland

Last week the CBI published Shaping our future - business principles for UK EU negotiations - July 2016.pdf

We carried out a snap electronic poll of 100 business representatives at today’s event and found : 

  • 45% of respondent organisations had considered the implications of Brexit since the referendum vote, while 49% were currently considering them.
  • Having analysed the implications of Brexit, 33% of respondent organisations believed it would have a negative impact on their operations, while 2% said it would be positive. 58% were still analysing the overall impact to their business.
  • 98% of respondents felt the CBI’s high-level principles (ease of trade with the single market, access to skills, access to world trade deals) were broadly in line with their own.
  • 89% believed that Brexit will have a greater economic impact on Northern Ireland than the UK as a whole. Only 8% said it wouldn’t.
  • 52% believed Brexit will have a strongly negative impact on the Northern Ireland economy over the next 5 years, while 40% believed this would only be slightly negative. Nobody stated the impact would be positive.
  • 96% believed that Northern Ireland should have its own trade representative to take part in the Brexit negotiations

All Media Enquiries

Anthea Savage, Communications & Events Executive, CBI Northern Ireland. DL: 028 9010 1117;
E: anthea.savage@cbi.org.uk