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Survival of small businesses 'hangs in the balance' if Brexit becomes a reality

Some 200,000 people are employed here due to trade between Ireland and the UK.

Image: Shutterstock/Brian A Jackson

THE SMALL FIRMS Association (SFA) has warned that Britain leaving the European Union poses a risk for small businesses in Ireland.

The UK is set to vote on the issue in a referendum on 23 June.

Linda Barry, SFA assistant director, said trade between the two countries directly supports over 400,000 jobs – half of them in Ireland.

“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.”

Barry said uncertainty is “never good in business” and Brexit “introduces layers of uncertainty for companies in Ireland”:

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. Small businesses may be dependent on a UK supplier, investor or market, which means that their very survival hangs in the balance.

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“The looming referendum is already having a significant impact on exchange rates. Uncertainty has pushed the value of sterling lower, increasing the competitive pressures on Irish exporters. If the UK votes to leave, this effect could intensify.”

Barry called on the next government to focus on this issue in the months ahead.

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Órla Ryan

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