Long Brexit extension granted amidst NI business slump

  • A long extension to Brexit has been agreed by the European Union, giving Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK until October 31st at the latest to prepare.

    Businesses across the UK have been hit by costs associated with Brexit preparation, but firms in Northern Ireland have been disproportionately affected. Many of the businesses here depend on frictionless trade across the land border with Ireland, and Northern Ireland's extensive IT services and tech industry relies on efficient export of services globally.

    Back in January, we learned that haulage companies across Northern Ireland were facing Brexit disaster as the region was granted only 60 haulage permits out of the thousands that would have been needed to cope with the 13,000 lorries that cross the border each day across hundreds of border crossings.

    NI Chamber and business advisers BDO's first Quarterly Economic Survey of the year highlighted economic slowdown due to Brexit, and it emerged that most companies in Northern Ireland were unable to prepare for Brexit. Things started looking even more bleak in Februrary as we learned that businesses in Northern Ireland were cancelling local investment plans due to the impending Brexit deadline and the uncertainty of our future operational environment.

    This week the already-extended Brexit deadline in of April 12th was extended further when the European Union granted the UK an extension to October 31st to agree on an exit plan. This gives companies in Northern Ireland some short term relief and time to plan for Brexit, but it's still not clear exactly what outcomes they should be planning for or precisely when it'll actually happen. The October 31st date is the maximum agreed extension but exit could happen at any time before then if an agreement is reached.

    The newest NI Chamber Quarterly Economic Survey highlighted that business in the region is being negatively impacted by Brexit, and that most companies are now less confident about turnover and profitability than in the previous 12 months. The report confirmed that investment plans are being put on hold, and 60% of respondents have reported that Brexit is negatively impacting their ability to hire skilled workers.

    Sources: BBC News, NI Chamber

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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