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74% of Irish Business Leaders Don’t Believe EU-UK Trade Deal Achievable in 2020 as Post-Brexit Trade Talks Resume


74% of business leaders do not believe that the EU and UK can achieve a trade deal by the December 2020 deadline, while 87% of business leaders believe that Brexit’s impact on the Irish economy will be negative in the short-term.

These are some of the Brexit-related results of a new quarterly Director Sentiment Monitor survey, for Q1 2020, by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland. The survey was conducted between 18th - 26th March 2020 amongst its 3,000 members, comprising CEOs and company directors.

These findings are released today in advance of the resumption of the EU-UK trade deal talks.  With discussions disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU and the UK agreed a new timetable for three further rounds of post-Brexit trade negotiations including:  Monday 20th April, Monday 11th May, and Monday 1st June. Each round of talks is projected to last one week.

Maura Quinn, Chief Executive of Institute of Directors in Ireland, said: 

These are immensely challenging times for us all, for society as a whole, for employees and their families, and businesses. We are all concerned about matters of life and death, as a priority. That said, while Brexit and the EU-UK trade talks had been sidelined as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders are acutely aware of the potential Brexit fallout and the importance of these negotiations to our open economy. Whether or not there is a trade deal achieved by the December deadline, it is imperative that we see some positive signs emerge from these talks that a trade deal is within range, even if it is not achievable this year. This is crucial as we have a context where many are forecasting tough times ahead for the global economy. Business confidence needs a boost.

The new key findings from the IoD’s quarterly Director Sentiment Monitor survey, for Q1 2020, in relation to Brexit, include:

  • When asked, ‘Do you think the EU and the UK can reach a trade deal before the end of the transition period in December 2020?’, 74% of business leaders said ‘No’. Just under 13% said ‘Yes’, while 14% said they ‘Don’t know’.
  • 87% of business leaders in Q1 2020 believe that Brexit’s impact on the Irish economy will be negative in the short-term, while 49% believe it will be negative in the long term. Just 4% believe it will be positive in the short-term, while 27% say it will be positive in the long term.
  • When asked about Ireland’s status in the EU post-Brexit, 30% believe it will be ‘Enhanced’, which is a 9% decrease on the previous quarter, Q4 2019. Furthermore, 30% say it is ‘Difficult to judge’ (an increase of 5% on Q4 2019), 22% believe it will be ‘Diminished’ (up 2% on Q4 2019) and 19% say it will be ‘Unchanged’ (an increase of 4% on Q4 2019).

The full Director Sentiment Monitor report for Q1 2020, covering a range of other issues, including COVID-19, will be published early in May.