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Irish economic and trade interests must be protected during Brexit negotiations

 

Following on from the UK’s decision to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (29th March 2017), Waterford Chamber calls on the Irish Government to continue a concerted, sustained campaign to highlight the unique Brexit issues for Ireland with both our European partners and the UK and to underline its commitment to protecting Irish trade, our border economy and ensuring that Ireland remains competitive.

 

Commenting on Prime Minister May’s announcement, Nick Donnelly, Waterford Chamber CEO said, “While we continue to regret the UK decision to leave the European Union and recent statements by the UK Government in relation to leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, it is important that the process to enable negotiations to begin has been initiated. We call on all parties in the negotiations to work together to find a deal that will enable Ireland, the European Union and the UK to thrive, creating openness, growth and employment in pursuit of a better world.”

 

“We welcome the Irish Government’s continued affirmation that Ireland will remain within the heart of the EU. As the negotiations commence the Irish Government must continue to take a strong stand in protecting Irish economic interests, particularly our ability to compete, attract investment and maintain and develop open trading markets.

 

“Furthermore, given the unique history of the Irish border with Northern Ireland and the importance of free movement of goods and people throughout the island, we call on the Irish Government to strongly advocate on behalf of businesses operating on an all-island basis, in accordance with agreed pan-European policy, so as to ensure continued trade, growth, and prosperity for the all island economy.”

 
Frontline Project highlights business concerns along the border

 

Frontline Report 1

 

27th March 2017 – Currency, competitiveness and customs are just some of the concerns of businesses along the frontline according to a new report published this morning.

 

The Frontline Project is a collection of testimonies collected from businesses along the southern border. It was compiled by the Brexit Border Blog on behalf of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and Chambers Ireland.

 

Over the months of January and February this year, 35 on-the-record interviews were conducted with business leaders from the retail, hospitality, engineering, transport, agri-food, construction and ecological sectors along with those involved in local chambers of commerce and local enterprise offices. A small sample feature in this morning’s report while the rest will be serialised over the coming months on the Brexit Border Blog – www.brexitborder.com.

 

The main challenges to business highlighted by those interviewed were currency volatility, loss of competitiveness, potential introduction of customs and tariffs, access to markets post-Brexit, cross-border freedom of movement, uncertainty and a general lack of clear and reliable information.

 

Contributions included in this morning’s report come from:

 

  • Paddy Malone, Dundalk Chamber of Commerce
  • Thomas McEvoy, Louth Local Enterprise Office
  • Gabriel D’Arcy, LacPatrick
  • Tony Morgan, Lipton’s Discount Store
  • Billy Flynn, Flynn Furney Environmental Consultants
  • John Foy, SuperValu
  • Paul Quinn, Mastek
  • Barry Smith, Abcon
  • JJ O’Hara, Leitrim Tourism Network
  • Colm McGrath, President, Carrick-on-Shannon Chamber
  • Cecil Whiteside, Centra
  • Mary Harty, Sligo Chamber
  • Toni Forrester, Letterkenny Chamber
  • Michael Tunney, Donegal LEO

 

Speaking ahead of the launch, Director General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce John McGrane said: “The Frontline Project is an important piece of work that highlights the challenges being faced by businesses that now find themselves at the coalface as a result of Brexit. The open border has been hugely important for the development of business in this region with 30,000 people commuting across the 300 mile border every day for work.

 

“Latest figures show that £5.1 billion worth of goods were traded across the border in 2016. Business along the border stand to lose most should restrictions to trade and the movement of people come into force as a result of Brexit. The importance of maintaining an open border is crucial if this trade is to continue to grow as the stories gathered for this project clearly demonstrate.”

 

Ian Talbot, Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland said: “The Frontline project is a valuable report, giving a voice to businesses along the border, highlighting their concerns and the obstacles they are likely to face. Although uncertainty is prevalent, one thing is clear- the business community wants to prepare and must be supported in doing so.

 

“The consequences of Brexit are likely to be the greatest challenges our economy faces in the years to come. Irish Government must prioritise economic factors within our control such as maintaining our competitiveness, rapidly investing in our infrastructure and supporting our SMEs traders, particularly when it comes to diversification and accessing new markets.”

 

Fearghal McKinney from Brexit Border Blog said: “We were delighted to have played a role in helping to identify the information gap around the implications of Brexit. The next step is being able to identify mechanisms that will help fill that gap for those on the frontline who are particularly affected.”

 
Enhanced Credit Guarantee Scheme is good for small business

 

Waterford Chamber has today (21st March 2017) welcomed the announcement of the new Credit Guarantee Scheme 2017 by Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen TD.

 

Commenting on the new Scheme, Nick Donnelly, CEO Waterford Chamber said, “The announcement of the new and enhanced Credit Guarantee Scheme is good news for Irish business and will increase the vital support needed to access finance for SMEs.  The announcement of the new Scheme comes at a good time as accessing the finance needed to expand and plan for growth is more important than ever for Irish SMEs as they face the challenges of planning for Brexit, identifying and accessing new and alternative export markets and utilising a wider range of trade finance instruments appropriate for different markets.”

 

“The reforms to the Credit Guarantee Scheme will hopefully address access to finance issues facing many  small businesses  by extending the definition of loan agreements to cover invoice finance and overdrafts and will allow SMEs greater flexibility in borrowing; all measures to be welcomed.”

 
Chamber President welcomes city centre investment

 

Laurent Borla 0037

Following the announcement that Saudi Arabian investment group, Al Hokair, will be investing in the region of €300 million in the city, Waterford Chamber President Laurent Borla said: "It’s being described as a game changer for Waterford and there is absolutely no doubt about that. This will be the largest commercial development Waterford has ever seen. Our city will be unrecognisable in a short period of time and it is a remarkable show of confidence in Waterford and the wider region that Al Hokair have chosen to invest here.

 

"Waterford City & County Council, along with their advisors, must be commended for securing this transformational investment. What it will mean in terms of job creation, commercial and retail investment, population growth and economic prosperity is hugely significant and positions Waterford as a true regional capital, driving a much stronger South East region.

 

"Waterford has been clear and vocal in outlining its vision for the city in terms of the 2040 National Planning Framework and this will motivate us even more to be a city of consequence with a population of 100,00 people and a vibrant city centre. Our aspirations for Waterford are now achievable and there is no question that Waterford and the South East Region has a bright and prosperous future."

 
Irish business can set a standard for best practice corporate social responsibility

 

Chambers Ireland CSR Launch 1

 

Chambers Ireland today (09/03/17) launched the Corporate Social Responsibility Awards 2017 in the Guinness Storehouse. The CSR Awards offer the business community a chance to promote and highlight the best practice CSR activities taking place in companies of all sizes across Ireland. The Awards showcase projects that help to improve the workplace for the benefit of employees, that engage with and help to improve the communities in which business operate and that are environmentally responsible.

 

Speaking after the launch, Waterford Chamber President, Laurent Borla said, “The growth of the CSR Awards over the past fourteen years represents the increasing importance that responsible company practices, community engagement and workplace environment holds in the strategies of Ireland’s businesses. Given the current direction of global political and economic discourse it is more important than ever for Ireland to showcase strong commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. The business community has a vital role to play in the realisation of the Global Goals. Through focussing on sustainability and social responsibility the Irish business community can differentiate itself from international competitors by setting a standard for responsible business and best practice CSR.”

 

Tina Roche, CEO Business in the Community Ireland said, “The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals requires a new partnership model between stakeholders such as business, academia, civil society and government. The Goals call for business to apply its creativity and innovation to solving the world’s economic, social and environmental challenges. Companies in Ireland need to showcase the impacts they are already having in these areas so we encourage companies of all sizes and all sectors to enter the Awards and communicate their positive impact.”

 

The launch of the fourteenth annual CSR Awards took place in the Guinness Storehouse. ESB were winners of the 2016 Outstanding Achievement in CSR Award for the commitment to CSR practices that are embedded at are embedded at the company’s core and for the organisation’s ongoing dedication to community engagement. The awards are kindly sponsored by BAM Ireland and run in association with the Department of Housing, Community and Local Government and in partnership with Business in the Community Ireland. The applications are now open online at www.csrawards.ie. The closing date for nominations is Thursday 20th April 2017.

 

2017 Award categories include: Excellence in Environment, Community (divided into Charity, Volunteering and Community Programme), Workplace, Marketplace, Supporting Youth Employment, CSR Communication, Best SME and the overall Outstanding Achievement in CSR Award.

 
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Calendar of Events 2017

 

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