Only 1 in 7 small businesses in NI has plans for no-deal Brexit

Only one in seven small businesses in Northern Ireland have made plans for a no deal Brexit claims the Federation of Small Businesses in Northern Ireland.

Roger Pollen, the head of external communications with the federation says “people are sitting tight” as they feel they cannot make plans until they have all the facts.

Many fear they could make plans for 50 different contingencies and then find that there is a 51st scenario.

“They are hoping for some clarity at the 11th hour,” he told RTE radio’s Morning Ireland.

Mr Pollen warned that there could be a lot of market distortion if Irish companies use Northern Ireland as a route to the British market.

He was responding following the announcement that Britain will not introduce any new checks or controls on goods moving from Ireland to Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, including no customs declarations for normal goods.

Announcing a series of “strictly temporary, unilateral” measures on Wednesday morning, the British government said its priority would be to enter into discussions with the European Commission and the Irish Government to jointly agree long-term measures to avoid a hard Border.

Britain also announced a temporary tariff regime for a no-deal scenario but said it would not apply tariffs on goods crossing the Border into Northern Ireland. It will be for the Irish Government and for the EU to determine what measures might be applied on goods.

Mr Pollen said that the move is asymmetric.

The UK is making that offer, but the problem is that the UK is negotiating with itself, not the EU.

The UK Treasury Plan is a legal route because of the Good Friday Agreement, he said as under World Trade Organisation rules allowances are made for special circumstances.

There is not a lot of time to start planning, added Mr Pollen, but it is not too late for the six out of seven small businesses that do not have a contingency plan.

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