A third of Irish companies now believe a no-deal, hard Brexit will materialise at the end of this year.
Coupled with 42% believing only a partial trade deal between Britain and the EU is possible, it means that 75% - or three quarters – of Irish businesses believe a comprehensive Brexit trade deal cannot be agreed by the end of December.
The findings were part of a Brexit survey of Irish business leaders carried out by PwC.
A quarter of Irish companies still expect the British government to request an extension from the EU to the existing transition agreement.
In terms of preparedness, 62% of companies said they were “somewhat” ready for Brexit, with 34% saying they are “very” ready. Only 4% of respondents said they are not ready at all.
Companies listed cost increases, job losses, supply chain disruption and revenue falls as their chief Brexit fears in the event of no comprehensive deal being reached.
“While businesses across all sectors are already facing disruption, the ticking clock of Brexit requires that plans and contingency options are reconsidered now as a matter of urgency,” said PwC Ireland Brexit leader David McGee.
Clarity is needed more than ever. But, according to our survey a full comprehensive trade deal is considered unlikely. We urge all businesses to step-up their Brexit plans, including dealing with the new UK Global Tariff, so that they can be as prepared as possible for a no-deal or a limited deal on January 1 2021.
The Irish survey coincided with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator saying Britain is asking for too much in the current talks.
Michel Barnier said Britain is seeking a trading relationship with the EU that is too close to that of an EU member. He has urged the British government to adjust its demands during the four months that remain to reach a deal.
“The truth is that in many areas [Britain] is demanding a lot more than Canada, Japan or many of our other (trade) partners,” Mr Barnier told a forum in Brussels, referring to sophisticated trade deals that Britain would like to emulate.
“In many areas it is looking to maintain the benefits of being a member state without the constraints,” Mr Barnier said. “It is looking to pick and choose the most attractive elements of the [EU] single market without the obligations.”
The European Parliament, which must approve any final accord, will debate in two committees on Friday its position on what a future relationship should entail.
-additional reporting Reuters