Assistant Director of the Small Firms Association (SFA), Linda Barry, has today claimed that the connections between the Irish and British economies are as deep as they are wide and that trade between the two countries directly supports over 400,000 jobs – half of them in Ireland.
She has warned that the looming referendum is already having a significant impact on exchange rates and that uncertainty has pushed the value of sterling lower, increasing the competitive pressures on Irish exporters.
Furthermore, Barry claims that small firms do not have the same degree of mobility, flexibility and diversification that may help larger businesses to navigate the risks posed by a UK exit from the EU. She has stressed that small businesses may be dependent on a UK supplier, investor or market, which means that their very survival hangs in the balance.
According to Barry, "For small Irish businesses looking to expand, the UK is often their first export market and 43% of exports from indigenous Irish companies are destined for the UK. The UK is a strong voice for free trade, reduction in red tape and other pro-enterprise policies at EU level. For all of these reasons, it is in the interests of the Irish small business community that the UK remains in a reformed EU."
"Uncertainty is never good in business and the Brexit issue introduces layers of uncertainty for companies in Ireland. The immediate question relates to the outcome of the referendum on 23 June, but the prospect of a vote to leave carries with it the longer-term uncertainty over the arrangements that would be made between the EU and a UK outside of it."