A LEADING financial expert has warned local businesses that while the true impact of Brexit has yet to be felt, it will ultimately be a painful process.
Irish financial advisor, Eddie Hobbs was speaking at the Fermanagh Herald networking event at the Lough Erne Resort on Friday.
Addressing concerns of a possible hard border between the North and the Republic, the television presenter and author said he doesn’t see this as a credible outcome.
“A hard Brexit is at the extreme end of outcomes but there is going to have to be compromise and the idea that this will be found quickly is not realistic.
The idea that the British can have their cake and eat it is simply not credible. This is going to cost and cost significantly but not where it damages both sides. A hard border is not in the interest of either North or South, Britain or the EU.
“You have to be realistic as there will be negotiating and a compromise which will have to be some kind of associate membership between Britain and the EU, subject to pretty stiff terms and conditions.”
Speaking to the Herald, Mr Hobbs had this advice for small local enterprises trading along the border who may be fearing the worst.
“The whole potential range of possible outcomes is so wide that even to begin to worry about it now is emotionally draining. You’re beginning to picture a world that may not exist in two or three years time. If you are running a business, the best thing you can do really is not to assume the worst but not to ignore it either. Just get on with driving your business as best you can in the markets that you’re in.
“Clearly if you’re exporting to the UK from the Republic, there is the possibility of tariffs and you must have contingency planning. If you are running an SME, the worst thing you could be doing is staying awake at night worrying about what your business might look like in two years time when the Prime Minister herself doesn’t know the outcome of the negotiations. Until such times as the discussion starts, we just don’t know.
“It would be a mistake for any business to be waiting for political developments to unfold. These will follow where the economic activity is so people need to get on and build their business relationships North and South and in time politics follows that. Not enough businesses in the North sell into the Republic or come down as tourists and vice versa.”
He added: “The real problem for Brexit is that the impact of it hasn’t begun yet. Sterling has fallen and the world hasn’t caved in but really the price hasn’t been paid yet. While Brexit has been a painless decision so far, the pain is coming.”