Neighbours with a common focus: Export

Catriona-Gibson,-partner-and-head-of-dispute-resolution-at-Arthur-Cox_NEW Catriona Gibson, litigation partner at Arthur Cox in Belfast, takes a look at the growth in businesses trading in both directions across the Irish Sea.

Trade links between Britain and the island of Ireland have arguably never been more in focus since the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent uncertainty prevalent in the eurozone.

While the need for Northern Ireland to be export focused has always been a mantra in these parts it is today less of a cliché and more of a commercial imperative.

For many the immediate thought triggered by ‘export’ is of the so-called ‘BRIC’ countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – and while these markets are clearly essential to the long term growth of the Northern Ireland economy there is perhaps more we could be doing closer to home.

In 2011 the value of goods and services from the UK to Ireland was more than double the value of exports to China, and Ireland remains the UK’s top export market for food and drink and clothing and textiles. In turn, the UK represents between 15-18 per cent of all Irish exports. Two-way trade stands at €1bn per week!

Being part of that growing trade dynamic is something Northern Ireland businesses can more easily envisage and at Arthur Cox our offices in London, Dublin and Belfast are increasingly facilitating business between the two islands with local companies taking a greater interest in the possibilities.

Those possibilities include selling goods and services to the public and private sectors as well as merger and acquisition activity that happens in both directions. The investment potential too, in both jurisdictions, is something that is becoming more readily recognised.

Both governments are actively encouraging trade between the islands with an increased number of events happening in Belfast, Dublin and London; with organisations in London, those associated with a large ex-pat business community from throughout the island of Ireland, getting involved in major ways.

These include the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, the London Irish Business Society and the Irish International Business Network, all intent on ensuring connections are made for companies on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Of course government agencies like Invest NI and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in London are also very active in facilitating growth in trade links between the UK and Ireland as are the CBI, IoD and the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce.

It’s an increasingly busy space in which to operate and getting good advice along the way is important.

Arthur Cox in Belfast are helping companies based on both sides of the Irish Sea with a variety of services including litigation, banking, corporate finance, food and agri-business, tax, the EU and competition law.

Increasingly the firm is being asked to advise across a wide range of market sectors as firms seek to do business in both directions.

The agri-food sector in particular already has strong links to Britain and that looks set to grow despite some of the recent headlines around meat processing.

Agri-food exports from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK and Ireland remain a significant part of this region’s total trade and the innovation and expertise within the sector is attractive not just in these islands but further afield.

Growth in trade between Britain and Ireland is a healthy development and with the costs of market entry considerably smaller for trading in the UK and Ireland as opposed to getting established in China or Brazil, the opportunities presented by one’s neighbours are becoming entirely attractive.

Given that we have offices in Dublin, Belfast and London we can complete the circle of advice needed to ensure companies make informed decisions about commercial opportunities.

While any move into a new marketplace is never without its challenges we can simplify the process and we see that particularly where companies view market entry as an acquisitive strategy and therefore employment law and practices in both jurisdictions come high on a list of priorities to understand, implement and resolve.

The full service provided means all considerations are made prior to decisions being taken – no matter what it is clients are trying to achieve.

There are no real or apparent barriers to exporting goods and services between Britain and Ireland. Often it doesn’t happen because firms don’t have the confidence to proceed based on a lack of knowledge.

At Arthur Cox we provide the know-how that lets companies get on with doing business.

At €1bn a week in both directions and growing, increasing numbers of businesses are more than interested in having a small share.

For further information please contact Arthur Cox in Belfast on 028 9023 0007 Web: arthurcox.com

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