The CBI NI-IBEC Joint Business Council broadly welcomes the Withdrawal Agreement which includes details on EU worker’s rights, a transition period, the UK’s financial settlement and a backstop.

This draft Withdrawal agreement allows for negotiations to begin on that much-needed comprehensive UK/EU agreement on future relations which will hopefully ensure frictionless trade for firms both North-South and East-West and so protect the all-island economy.

For business on the island of Ireland the detailed provisions for a backstop in the draft Agreement can be viewed as a ‘safety-net’ insurance policy. The ‘optimal solution’ is for the UK and EU achieve’ a Comprehensive Trade Agreement by December 2020, or as close to that date as possible, which will allow for frictionless trade and ‘just-in-time’ supply chains to continue operating in a post-Brexit environment. For business in Ireland and Northern Ireland and especially SMEs who share a land border it is particularly important this future trade agreement includes an ambitious deal on services.

Commenting on developments CBI NI Director Angela McGowan said: “Companies across Northern Ireland simply could not cope with a no-deal Brexit. Such a scenario would risk jobs, investment and living standards. This latest agreement between London and Brussels provides local firms the potential for a guaranteed transition period and an assurance that their supply chains will not be disrupted under any future scenario. If ratified, this Withdrawal Agreement should provide a degree of certainty to the business community that Northern Ireland’s economy will ultimately be protected”.

IBEC Director of Policy Fergal O’Brien added, “Protecting the benefits of the 1998 Belfast Good Friday Agreement and the all island economy as the UK leaves the EU is vital. The deal includes very welcome provisions to minimise disruption to all island economic activity and avoid a hard border. This will benefit businesses in Ireland and Northern Ireland and will safeguard thousands of jobs and livelihoods across the island. Swift ratification is vital.

Source: CBI