Businesses believe Brexit will lead to more international investment in Ireland, but they are more evenly divided on whether a trade deal will be completed by the end of this year.
This is according to a poll of more than 1,000 delegates who took part in a webinar on Brexit and the Irish economy, organised by law firm Matheson yesterday (19 November).
A full 82% of delegates believed that Brexit would lead to increased investment flows into Ireland. Just 46%, however, believed that the EU and UK would not succeed in agreeing a trade deal by 31 December, while 54% thought agreement would be reached.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath (pictured) told the event the Government would do all it could to ensure that the economic fall-out from Brexit is limited.
He warned business, however, to make sure they were ready for Brexit, as the UK would leave the single market and customs union on 1 January, regardless of the outcome of negotiations.
Dr Frances Ruane, who chairs the National Competitiveness Council, said that while Ireland’s relative competitiveness position had improved since the financial crisis, underperformance in several critical areas would make it more difficult to deal with the post-Brexit world.
"We urgently need to progress the digital and green agendas, and deal with infrastructure deficits, such as broadband,” she told delegates.
Matheson managing partner Michael Jackson told delegates that Ireland’s commitment to its EU membership and its established reputation as a location for companies seeking to access the EU markets would help offset some of the negative impacts of Brexit on the Irish economy.
“Businesses worldwide will continue to require certainty of access to EU markets, and Ireland has a track record, an educated and skilled workforce and a business culture which will continue to make it an attractive location in which to establish,” he said.
Mr Jackson said the firm had been advising clients to prepare for the worst-case scenario, and he stressed the importance of remaining focused on implementing their Brexit plans.
British Ambassador to Ireland, Paul Johnston, told the event that Ireland was, and always would be, a crucial economic partner for the UK.
“Ireland’s strengths as a fast-growing economy committed to innovation and development will ensure that it remains a priority market for UK companies,” he said, adding that the UK would continue to welcome Irish investors.