The Brexit negotiations have formally started. Mind you it’s not as if it’s the central plank of the news every night. This is all very strange given that they have less than two years to conclude the talks.
As far as the UK and the North are concerned, Brexit, and specifically these negotiations are among the most important issues that they will have faced in generations.
Unfortunately, these negotiations will have grave impact on us, too, and we have not yet come to grips with that fact. There are some who still believe that it will be “all right on the night”, not just in the UK but also in Ireland.
Is the penny really beginning to drop on this island, at last? It’s been suggested that behind closed doors the DUP acknowledge that Brexit will be an economic disaster for the island of Ireland. One can only assume that they mean if it’s not handled properly.
Sure, we hear that things will be tough for the agricultural sector, food producers who may have to face swingeing tariffs to access the UK market coupled with currency differentials not in their favour.
It has the potential to make life impossible for the thousands of hauliers who transit through the UK on their way to Europe. Those industries that will potentially be badly impacted include the airline industry if the ‘open skies’ policy is not handled properly.
Indeed, sales into the UK could be very badly affected if those on both sides of the table continue to underestimate the impact of a job badly done.
The one activity we appear to be taking very seriously is that of trying to attract all of those UK-based but EU-facing agencies, banks, brokers and so on who will need to be somewhere in the EU if they wish their business to continue.
The City of London hopes that somehow, even in a hard Brexit, they may be able to persuade the EU to let them continue to be based in the UK but have a licence to operate in the EU.
How successful we will be, given the mainland Europe locations that are also vying for these thousands of businesses, is still questionable given shortcomings such as lack of housing.
We can only hope that our efforts are successful and we land our fair share as we have done with other industrial and business sectors.
We cannot be complacent, however. Industry and technology live in an evolutionary process and we must evolve with them or we will be also-rans.
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