Putting Irish SMEs at the heart of the Brexit matter

Bord Bia has invested heavily in supporting Irish businesses to become ‘Brexit ready’.

As a result there is a confidence emerging in the country’s international markets and domestically that SMEs can take plenty of hope in a future, despite the potential for market change.

This is according to Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia who was participating in a panel discussion ‘Brexit and Business’ at the Government of Ireland marquee during the National Ploughing Championships today, Wednesday, September 18.

The organisation is also at the heart of the food and drinks business in this country and is critically aware of the impact that Brexit is going to have on the sector.

Meanwhile, once the UK leaves the EU on October 31, it will become a ‘third country’ in terms of trade – similar to trading with any country outside of the EU.

And, as a result, tariffs on goods entering will apply.

Tariffs and trade

So, how is this going to impact on Irish business; and particularly on SMEs that haven’t experienced trade with a third country in the first instance?

McCarthy says that over the last three years Bord Bia has been focused on the export side of Irish business to the UK and the risk to that as a direct result of Brexit.

We narrowed it down to five areas: customer engagement; understanding the supply chain; financial risk; diversification; and support.

She continued: “We have had about 120 companies responding to our efforts on this over the last three years and each time we can see the progress.

“We have moved from nobody telling their customers anything to about 90% of Irish businesses informing their customers about what is going on.”

Getting Brexit ready

Bord Bia, meanwhile, has run a number of workshops and mentoring programmes to tackle the issues – and this has paid off, it seems.

New markets are currently being “tapped into” by the Irish Government and this too is having a positive outcome for SMEs.

Key to all of this is managing the brand internationally and that Irish businesses are prepared and we won’t let our customers down.

She went on to say that as far as the agri-food industry was concerned “huge effort” had been made ensuring the sector was prepared for Brexit outcomes.

“This gives us our best chance to compete no matter what happens.

She continued: “That in itself should instill confidence across the board…’

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