One of Ireland’s best-known businessmen has said a hard border after Brexit would severely undermine the “excellent social and commercial relations that have been so carefully constructed” in recent years.
Sean O’Sullivan, who is managing director of Cork-headquartered Seabrook Technology Group as well as a former director of RTÉ, said that Irish business should begin viewing Brexit and US president Donald Trump’s policies as opportunities rather than hindrances to business.
He said he would be concerned about the “psychological impact” of reintroducing the border between the Republic and the North.
“The imposition of border controls and tariffs would be a step backward and benefit nobody. When the border came down many years ago and trade barriers were removed, this was a very clear signal that progress was being made. It prompted the idea that it was hard to fight about politics with your neighbours if you were doing good business with them,” he said.
Mr O’Sullivan said Irish companies need to start “thinking outside the box” when it comes to doing business in the UK and America.
He said he would not deny that companies will now face more challenges due to Brexit and Trump policies but that he believed being strategic can result in more business for Irish firms.
He said his own firm has taken actions to increase its sales activity in the UK rather than decrease it, and that it has increased its sales calls and seminars.
“Manufacturers in Britain are looking to increase quality and compliance to remain competitive in foreign markets. We see an opportunity for Seabrook to provide the software that improves quality while reducing costs.
“Under Mr Trump, there may be a shift towards a cut down on imports as US moves to bring manufacturing companies back to the US. Seabrook can capitalise on this increased US production, helping implement these new processes,” said Mr O’Sullivan.
Meanwhile, UK prime minister Theresa May’s gamble on a snap election has shaken public confidence with nearly two thirds of voters now negative about her government’s approach to Brexit talks, an ORB International opinion poll found.
“This month’s Brexit tracker suggests the damage from a poor election result is continuing to cast doubt over Brexit. Confidence that the prime minister will be able to negotiate the right deal remains brittle,” managing director of ORB, Johnny Heald said.
Additional reporting Reuters
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