My Department's ongoing engagement with businesses and representative bodies and research indicates that the proportion of businesses preparing for Brexit is increasing, particularly among those businesses identified as most exposed to Brexit-related impacts. It also indicates that awareness of the key Brexit challenges is increasing. Almost 60% of Irish SME's report a good understanding of the likely implications of Brexit impacts that are relevant to their business. The findings of a survey, done by B&A on behalf of my Department in February 2019, suggest that planning for Brexit is increasing with almost 50% of SME's reporting having taken some form of active engagement (up from 42% in 2018) in the form of planning or other mitigating steps.
Among the most impacted businesses, progress is also being made, for example more than half of exporters indicate that they have a Brexit plan while 70% of exporting and importing companies have taken mitigating actions to address possible Brexit challenges.
Enterprise Ireland (EI) clients are actively planning for Brexit. According to an International Markets Week client survey 86% of client companies are now taking actions to prepare for the impact of Brexit. This is up from 38% in 2017. Top preparation measures include diversifying export markets, improving operational competitiveness, strengthening business in the UK, developing strategic partnerships, improving financial management, and investing in R&D.
It is vitally important that we continue to monitor and evaluate the levels of preparedness among Irish companies. My Department is currently engaged in ongoing research as part of its survey series, “Brexit: The view of Irish SME's.” These surveys aim to gauge the extent of Brexit planning and preparation among Irish businesses. At present, this research is in the fieldwork phase and findings are expected in the coming weeks.