Hard Brexit Ahead

For the sixth year running Merc Partners in consultation with Amárach compiled a survey that focused on Executive Expectations for 2017. The findings of which build on the foundations of similar studies undertaken.  In the latest research programme, 275 senior executives completed the survey. Due to the unfolding political events in the United Kingdom in relation to Brexit and in the USA with the inauguration of President Trump the survey was undertaken a few months later than usual this year.

Commenting on the survey results, Managing Partner at MERC Partners and Global Chair of ICC Partners, Ruth Curran said, “As a country, Ireland has made significant progress since we began this research programme in 2012. The outlook is positive but Brexit and the policies of the Trump administration have raised concerns for the future economic landscape.”

Hard Brexit is expected by executives

According to the latest survey almost all Irish senior executives believe that a hard Brexit is inevitable, with less than a quarter considering that a deal is possible in two years. Nine in 10 see potential trade barriers on Irish exports as the biggest Brexit-associated risk. Currency fluctuations didn’t concern executives as much as other issues, with 14 per cent of respondents identifying this as a top issue.

Executives believe Ireland will continue to strengthen

However, the executives were optimistic that Brexit could eventually be good for Ireland, with 86 per cent suggesting that the State will become a more attractive place for business as a result of Brexit. We are reminded that Ireland has come through the worst of the recession and has consistently been the fastest growing economy in Europe.

Growing pains of the economy

One of the consequences of the speed of the recovery is that there are immediate and pressing demands for resources across the economy.

On potential decisions for the Irish government, 80 per cent of executives surveyed think that the abolition of water charges is a bad call, 60 per cent don’t support an invitation to president Trump for an official visit to Ireland, and 65 per cent think third level fees could be introduced to increase university funding.

Ruth Curran added, “While the overall outlook is optimistic, our analysis highlights some perceived threats which are influencing decision-making. It’s clear that the decisive leadership shown by senior Irish executives is in return expected from their Government.”

Optimistic outlooks

A majority of respondents also believe that Ireland outperforms international competitors when it comes to quality of life, overall education services and entrepreneurial environment. The positive views that emerge from this research once again demonstrate our national strengths. The challenges that remain, and some new ones associated with our recovery, are highlighted with constructive intent – as a call to action for progressive change. Download the full survey here.