Irish eyes are focused on the border, say business chiefs

Business leaders from the CBI and Ibec are urging the government to ensure that future EU-UK trade arrangements maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic following Brexit.

Irish eyes are focused on the border, say business chiefs
Business leaders on both sides of the Irish Sea have added their voices to the growing chorus of demands for a swift resolution to the problem of maintaining an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit.

Brexit negotiators must ensure 'frictionless border' in Ireland

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Danny McCoy, chief executive of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec), led delegations that discussed the problem at a meeting in Belfast.Both organisations emphasised the importance of the Brexit negotiators agreeing of a future “frictionless border” and, to avoid a damaging ‘cliff edge’ scenario in the talks, “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”.The CBI added, “Continuity with existing arrangements should be maintained until the point where a new relationship takes effect.”Ms Fairbairn said the CBI would play a vital role in taking the concerns of Northern Irish businesses affected by Brexit to all levels of government in London and Brussels.

Irish border agreement must enable North and South to flourish

She added, “With Northern Irish exports to the Republic of Ireland valued at £2.4 billion 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.”
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Mr McCoy said, “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.”For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre

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