23 June 2017

  |  CBI Northern Ireland

Press release

CBI Director-General and Ibec CEO meet to discuss Brexit border challenge

CBI and Ibec representatives met at Ballymascanlon House Hotel, Dundalk for a Joint Business Council meeting sponsored by KPMG.  

CBI Director-General and Ibec CEO meet to discuss Brexit border challenge

Against the background of EU negotiations, senior leaders from the CBI and Ibec met yesterday at the Joint Business Council (JBC) to discuss critical issues for cross-border trade.

Members from both organisations reiterated the need to ensure an open frictionless border is maintained both between Ireland and Northern Ireland and between the United Kingdom and the island of Ireland.

In addition, to avoid a damaging ‘cliff edge’ scenario, it was agreed that any EU-UK trade deal must include comprehensive transitional arrangements and allow business plenty of time to prepare and adapt to a new trading relationship. Continuity with existing arrangements should be maintained until the point where a new relationship takes effect.

Speaking after the JBC meeting, CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn said:  

"The CBI will play a vital role in taking the concerns of Northern Irish businesses affected by Brexit to all levels of government in London and Brussels. With Northern Irish exports to the Republic of Ireland valued at £2.4bn in 2016, it is vitally important we reach a sensible agreement on the border issue which allows firms on both sides of the border to flourish.

"Meeting with representatives of Ibec it is clear there is full agreement from both sides of the border on the challenges a mismanaged Brexit would pose to businesses both North and South.

"There is a real desire to work together to find solutions that will promote a frictionless cross border trading system that allows businesses to avoid potential tariff and non-tariff barriers – this will be crucial for supporting jobs and future prosperity.

"However, any potential solution requires political stability. We therefore once again call on all political parties in Northern Ireland to act in the best interests of the region by restoring power-sharing institutions by the end of June. It has never been more important to have a fully functional Executive championing Northern Ireland’s cause."

Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec stated:

“Any deal between the EU and UK must recognise the unique economic and political challenge for Ireland and include a range of specific measures to address these. An early focus on avoiding a hard border with Northern Ireland is vital, but the Irish approach must also be informed by the greater economic importance of the east-west Irish-British trading relationship.

"Across both trade and investments, the outcome of negotiations must not disadvantage Ireland.

"Any future EU-UK deal must facilitate the closest possible, tariff-free economic, trading and business relationship between the EU and UK into the future and should be as broad, comprehensive and as ambitious as possible, covering both goods and services."