A ‘No Deal’ Brexit is set to have a significant impact on companies and consumers alike business leaders have warned with tariffs pushing the prices of goods up by as much as 40%.
The claim comes as groups responded to the publication of a series technical advice notices by the Government relating to a Brexit without an agreed trade deal with the EU.
Commnenting on the first wave of notices to be issued in comign weeks Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC), said they painted a “dark picture” for both business and the consumer.
“Most worryingly these notices provide confirmation that unless anything else changes, a No Deal Brexit would mean World Trade Organisation tariffs on imports from the EU on day one with an average 22% on food, 44% on Irish cheddar, 21% on Dutch tomatoes.
“This will translate into price rises which is disaster for our consumers who already have half of the discretionary income of our GB counterparts.”
“We can now see that both the European Commission and the UK Government accept the very real and serious consequences of a no-deal scenario – reduced availability and higher prices for a huge range of products, medicines and food in particular.
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman Mike Cherry, said the dangers of a sudden and unplanned no-deal Brexit had been laid bare.
“A pro-business Brexit is one with a transition period – a vital lifeline that won’t be there in a no-deal scenario. The smallest firms will be the least able to cope with a cliff-edge moment.
“It’s all very well for the Government to suggest that small businesses ensure they have the software, freight forwarders and brokers needed to make customs declarations in the event of a chaotic no deal.
“What ministers need to understand is that these are not big corporations, they don’t have thousands of pounds to throw at consultants and new tech,” he added.
“Suddenly having EU tariffs applied to UK exports from 11pm on March 29, will cause huge disruption to small UK firms that trade internationally.”
For manufacturing as a whole, MNI chief executive Stpehen Kelly said: “We’ve only seen around a third of the ‘no deal’ papers but what is now clear is the Brexit means bureaucracy and means costs which must be passed on to customers and consumers or firms go out of business.
“A quarter of jobs in Northern Ireland directly and indirectly are provided by our manufacturing firms and they work every day to reduce cost and complexity.
“What has been provided in these papers only makes here a more difficult and less attractive place to do business buy doubling up on rules, introducing unwelcome customs costs and everyone, including individuals liable for VAT costs.
Advising firms to ‘speak to the Irish’ is extraordinary. The UK government has a responsibility to deliver the Brexit they’ve chosen in a way which does not damage jobs and livelihoods.
“Only business can make Brexit work so brushing our firms off and telling them to go sort our own problems out by speaking to Dublin is not acceptable.”
Representing the important aerospace sector in the province and headed by Bombardier, Paul Everitt, chief executive of industry body ADS , said the papers proved beyond doubt that no deal would be the “worst possible outcome”.
“Leaving without a deal would create substantial burdens on business, which would be forced to bear the costs of adapting to and overcoming the inevitable disruption.
“There is little time left to negotiate a good deal that provides the certainty and smooth transition that our industries need.”