Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.31 5 Nov 2019


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New research has found that the UK's importance as a trading partner for Ireland has declined.

The study by HSBC says just 43% of Irish businesses see Britain as 'an important trade partner' in 2019, down from 73% last year.

However, 77% of Irish businesses expect sales growth next year - with almost one in five companies forecasting growth of 15% or more.

The survey looked at over 9,100 companies in 35 countries and territories.

It found that Irish businesses expect growth to be driven by new markets opening up (44%), transformative technologies (30%) and improvements in logistics and transportation (23%) over the coming year.

According to the report's findings, Irish businesses look set to focus on opening up new markets and introducing new products and services, focusing more on these than their counterparts in Europe (37%; 28%) and globally (38%; 30%).

Germany and France have both become more important trading partners for Ireland, with France's importance doubling since last year's report.

There is also evidence of a growing structural shift in Irish trade strategy away from Europe in the next five years.

It found that North America is surging in popularity.

Almost one-third of Irish businesses aim to do business there, compared to one in 10 last year.

HSBC Dublin city centre at night with the Spire and O'Connell Street in 2009 | Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Latin America has become a rival to France as a prospective market - largely at the expense of Europe as a region.

The proposed EU-Mercosur trade agreement will see customs tariffs for Irish businesses scrapped, creating new opportunities for trade with these countries.

Speaking about the findings, HSBC Ireland CEO Alan Duffy said: "The latest Navigator report shows that while shifting geopolitical currents have impacted on Ireland's trade relationships, Irish businesses are adapting their trade strategies accordingly to focus on new markets and new opportunities.

"Changes to the political and regulatory landscape have prompted Irish businesses to look to new markets, evidenced by the growth in popularity of Latin America as a trade destination.

"Ireland's reputation for favourable partnership opportunities and culture of innovation should provide Irish businesses with an excellent platform to build these new trade relationships.

"This survey is always an excellent indicator of the mood of Irish businesses and provides companies with an excellent foundation for future forecasting by looking at current and long-term trends and adapting strategies to incorporate these."

The report also highlighted the importance of sustainability for Irish businesses.

HSBC says pressure from competitors, regulators and customers is driving the Irish business community to raise its game with sustainable practices.

More than half (53%) of Irish businesses think they have a role to play in delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and close to one-quarter (23%) think that it is a significant role, in line with the global average.

While six in 10 Irish businesses think protectionism is increasing in their major trading markets, overall the verdict is that the rising trade restrictions are having a beneficial impact on their business.

Almost half of Irish companies who think that protectionism is rising feel that they stand to gain more than they lose.

Companies are responding to the tougher market conditions with a range of strategies - including reducing their margins (36%), acquiring local companies (33%) and selling through digital channels (30%).

The outlook for growth globally is strong, according to the report.

Some 47% of businesses are more optimistic about growth now than in 2018 - with 79% expecting their sales to rise over the next 12 months.

The full report can be found here


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Alan Duffy Britain EU Export HSBC HSBC Ireland Import Ireland Irish Businesses North America Protectionism Trading Trading Partner Uk

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