Nearly half of NI businesses feeling negative effects of Brexit already

  • 66% of Northern Ireland SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) have cancelled or postponed planned business investments and expansions due to Brexit, according to a new survey by AIB.

    The latest AIB Brexit Sentiment Index also reports that 47% of businesses in NI and 45% in the Republic of Ireland have already felt the negative impacts of Brexit.

    There is a similar lack of preparedness among businesses either side of the border. In NI just 6% of SMEs and 7% in the ROI have a formal plan in place.

    The quarterly survey, which is based on detailed telephone interviews with 200 SMEs in Northern Ireland and 500 in the Republic of Ireland, suggests that 53% of NI businesses haven’t started planning yet. Almost half have said they are not confident that they understand what a potential ‘no-deal’ Brexit would mean for their business.

    Two in three (67%) Northern Ireland firms now have a negative outlook on the future of their business compared with 71% in the ROI.

    Concerned for the bigger picture some 70% of NI SMEs also foresee a negative impact for the wider economy compared with 86% in the Republic of Ireland.

    However there is substantially lower amount of NI businesses that now expect a hard border (32%) compared to 59% of businesses in the ROI. 

    Brian Gillan, Head of Business and Corporate Banking at First Trust Bank added that up to 19% of NI SMEs are postponing bank borrowing for capital investment due to Brexit.

    He said: “With the continued political stalemate and uncertainty that abounds around Brexit it is perhaps not surprising that the Brexit Sentiment Index has reached an all-time low here in Northern Ireland at -41.

    “Sentiment is down across all sectors but worryingly it is at an all-time low in the Manufacturing and Tourism sectors, both very important for the NI economy.

    “While we understand the reluctance of businesses to plan, given the levels of uncertainty we believe there is still value in considering the potential impacts of Brexit on your business – especially in a ‘no-deal’ scenario.

    “Our advice to NI businesses is to continue to work with their advisors and trade and industry groups to make sure they are as best prepared for all eventualities.” 

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