I am deeply engaged with my Department’s agencies - Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland as well as through the Local Enterprise Offices - to ensure sufficient supports are in place to safeguard Irish jobs and exports in response to both the short term and long term impact of Brexit. I am in ongoing communication with these agencies through my chairing my Department’s Brexit Co-ordination Group, which includes the chief executives of the agencies.
I have met frequently with representatives of companies, business organisations and other stakeholders throughout the country in recent months to hear about their challenges and concerns arising from BREXIT and its possible consequences.
My Department's 2017 budget contains many measures to help Irish businesses to become more competitive and cope with the impact of Brexit. It includes an extra €52 million in capital funding to support the enterprise sector. Additional current moneys have also been secured to provide up to 50 extra staff for my Department and its enterprise agencies.
Enterprise Ireland is in close and regular contact with the 1500 clients that export to the UK, and in particular to those 600 companies, employing 40,000 people, that have a significant exposure to the UK market.
Training and supports provided by EI in terms of management capability, leadership, competitiveness, marketing/sales skills, market research, trade promotion, innovation and R&D is being intensified to help companies to build market share and create new market opportunities.
Through the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) a range of measures is being put in place to supplement existing supports, including:
- Supports to facilitate micro enterprises to develop new internationalisation opportunities;
- Roll out of a national “Lean for Micro” initiative to drive firm level competitiveness;
- Brexit-focused mentoring and training initiatives; and
- Local level awareness raising and information sharing about Brexit, including; seminars, workshops and cross-border business networking.
IDA Ireland has a clear Brexit Plan, which includes one-to-one investor engagements, public relations/media campaign and an international marketing campaign. The Agency has a Brexit Committee to oversee its response to the opportunities and challenges arising from Brexit.
IDA Ireland believes there are potential FDI opportunities for Ireland from Brexit. The potential sources of FDI are likely to come from: existing IDA Clients with a presence in Ireland who also have a presence in the UK, overseas clients (US, European and Asian) who have a presence in the UK but not in Ireland, UK companies operating in the UK who now need certain access to the European Market, and International clients without a presence in Europe seeking a European home.
In Budget 2017 I was also able to provide additional funding to InterTrade Ireland, the Cross Border Body which has specific responsibility for developing Cross Border Trade. InterTrade Ireland is undertaking a range of initiatives for SMEs trading across the border to help them adapt to the changed circumstances. Assistance will include the provision of factual advice, supports for capability building and the provision of other specialist expertise.
Finally I would like to draw attention to Enterprise Ireland’s #PrepareforBrexit communications campaign featuring the ‘Brexit SME Scorecard’ on www.prepareforbrexit.ie. The ‘Brexit SME Scorecard’ is a new interactive online platform which can be used by all Irish companies, whether they are EI clients or not, to self-assess their exposure to Brexit under six business pillars.
The Scorecard generates an immediate report which provides advice as well as information on supports and resources to Irish businesses preparing for Brexit. The Prepare for Brexit website also includes case studies of clients who have achieved export success in a range of key sectors and markets and features tips and advice. Enterprise Ireland is also running a series of Brexit events featuring expert speakers throughout the country to promote the tool and encourage companies to prepare for Brexit.