Irish Government reveals post-Brexit trade plans in new paper

9 Nov 2017

An EU flag flying outside the UK Houses of Parliament in London. Image: Chrispictures/Shutterstock

A new government paper focuses on helping companies deal with the consequences of Brexit.

Yesterday (8 November), An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald, TD, published a paper titled: Building Stronger Business: Responding to Brexit by competing, innovating and trading.

Fitzgerald said that the paper is “focused on the current needs of companies because many firms are already dealing with the consequences of the Brexit referendum result”, and added that the Government is providing supports to help “make companies more resilient in the face of Brexit and other global challenges”.

Fitzgerald also implored any businesses that have not started planning for Brexit to engage with the supports available.

Businesses need supports

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen, TD, noted: “Businesses are already coping with the consequences of the Brexit referendum, particularly currency fluctuations.”

He added that the Government is collaborating with enterprise agencies, and aims to support firms to engage in trade, grow their exports and diversify into new markets.

The paper also sets out the official approach to managing the impact of Brexit on the national research and development system, with Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan, TD, stating: “While from a research perspective, there are risks associated with the UK’s departure from the EU, there are also opportunities for Ireland to build further bilateral collaboration with the UK and to enhance our links with other EU countries.”

Four key aims

Helping firms to compete

The Government aims to create the best environment for business to grow, export and create jobs. Key elements include: ensuring that firms have access to finance; ensuring our tax regime and infrastructure spend promote national competitiveness; and giving agencies appropriate resources to help business focus on competitiveness.

Fostering innovation

The existing strategy to enable Ireland to become a global innovation leader will involve targeted research and development funding to support new innovations.

Supporting firms to trade

The Government aims to provide supports to firms to begin exporting, grow their exports in pre-existing markets, and diversify into new markets and regions around the world. It is also working to expand the portfolio of free trade agreements within the EU.

Negotiating for the best possible outcome

The department said it is leading a wide range of Brexit research projects in order to provide extensive pools of evidence to inform and guide Ireland’s position post-Brexit.

Brexit and Irish research

According to the paper, there may be opportunities for Ireland in the research and development space following Brexit.

It noted that the UK only accounts for 11.3pc of Ireland’s international links, and that Ireland is well diversified in terms of international collaboration.

“While there are risks to losing the UK as a partner in future Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation, there are also opportunities for Ireland to build further bilateral collaboration with the UK outside the EU, and to further diversify our collaborations with other EU member states in Horizon 2020. SFI has a number of programmes in place to deliver on this strategy.”

The report also detailed that Science Foundation Ireland “will target globally renowned researchers to relocate their research operations to Irish universities, thereby benefiting Ireland”.

It will also develop an Ireland-UK co-funded PhD studentship scheme to foster collaboration between Ireland’s higher education institutes (through the SFI research centres) and the top universities in the UK, while also growing Ireland’s PhD numbers, among other initiatives.

The report also examines issues such as the future of the Common Travel Area, state aid, and the future of the EU itself.

An EU flag flying outside the UK Houses of Parliament in London. Image: Chrispictures/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects