Chamber's Response to MP Gregory Campbell recent article in the Chronicle
The council are correct to voice their concerns about Brexit. They are not the only body concerned, the vast majority of local businesses, from Ballycastle to Greysteel, and beyond are concerned about the impact, however that concern varies in degree depending on business and location.
It is probably fair to say that even the small number of businesses that see Brexit as a positive are also concerned, as indecision and unpredictability are bad for business. We have seen many large businesses indicate concerns recently, and most notably in the joint statement released by 21 business groups on the attached sheet. These 21 businesses groups voiced grave concern for a no deal Brexit, and in terms of impact in the Causeway area, one of the most notable names is the UFU, and we often forget that farmers are business people.
If we take the example of any business that might support Brexit, and to be honest they are indeed in the minority, even those businesses, whilst looking on our EU departure as a positive, need to know what is happening and how it is going to happen, and it is clear that little is clear.
For the vast majority of businesses, Brexit is an unwelcome transition that appears inevitable and is now on our doorstep. we have had wide contact with businesses across the Causeway Coast and Glens area, and the true picture is that most businesses did not ask for this, did not wish for it and consider it a bad move for commerce.
Let's be clear, businesses are not necessarily afraid of Brexit, that is a different matter - in the Causeway area, the proportion of businesses are micro, small and a few medium, and as such a small scale, we have the ability to adapt quickly and respond to challenges as they arise. We are often better at this than larger enterprises, so Brexit is an unfortunate future detail, with the detail missing, and that is the problem. It is the uncertainty that is increasing the risk for all business and means redirecting resource and money into mitigating that risk. This impacts on small businesses in particular and as this is a growth area for Causeway Coast and Glens that is a major threat.
We all understand that the DUP culturally and ideologically want to preserve the union, with the resistance to any introduction of barrier controls between GB and Northern Ireland , and businesses would of course support this , but equally businesses cannot countenance any barrier controls that would compromise the Good Friday Agreement , or hamper trade movements from north to south, and to this problem there is currently no answer.
We are engaging with our local politicians, urging them to recognise the significance of Brexit to our economy and wider society, and calling on them to exert their influence on the government at this critical time.