Almost two-thirds of businesses have not yet taken steps to prepare for Brexit with lack of information, cost, and language cited as barriers to new markets, an Enterprise Ireland survey has found.
The group surveyed 600 businesses to coincide with its International Markets Week event in Dublin, where, over three days, hundreds of companies will discuss the challenges of Brexit and entering new markets.
Almost two-thirds of those who are not exporting to the eurozone plan to do so in the next 12 months, but just 38% of businesses are taking steps to combat the effects of Brexit, the survey found.
Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said lack of market information was the main barrier to the markets in Europe, the US, and Asia. Just over a fifth said costs were the main factor, while human resources issues, language barriers and regulation were other major factors.
More than 40% of firms said the eurozone would be their focus as they diversified into new markets, with 30% looking to the US and Canada. Some 15% said they were eyeing Asia.
Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Spain figured highest on the list for exporting.
Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon said the organisation was launching a new online campaign, titled Ireland Advantage, aimed at linking exporters to buyers in new markets.
She said it would initially focus on construction and medical technology services in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
“Diversification is at the very heart of this digital campaign, and it aims to support Irish companies to overcome the challenges of Brexit by opening doors for Irish businesses with major international buyers,” said Ms Sinnamon.
She said Brexit is one of the most significant changes that Irish business had ever seen, adding that the sterling slumping since the Brexit vote was not a “blip”.
Brexit has the potential to cause “serious damage” for unprepared businesses, according to a body representing project managers.
The Irish chapter of the Project Management Institute, in its pre-budget submission, called on the Government to address concerns such as investment in education and infrastructure.
President Niall Murphy said: “We now need to act, and ensure that Budget 2018 provides Ireland with the opportunity to continue to thrive and grow. Focus needs to be placed on strengthening our domestic economy while ensuring that Ireland continues to be attractive to foreign direct investment.”
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