The leader of Northern Ireland’s Chamber of Commerce has called on businesses to boost their post- transition readiness by signing up to the government’s Trader Support Service (TSS).
Chief executive of NI Chamber Ann McGregor said that with N I companies expressing growing concern about the UK’s prospect of striking a trade deal with the EU, there was an “urgent need to dramatically improve understanding of future trading arrangements with rest of the UK and increase awareness and uptake of the Trader Support Service”.
McGregor added that “any business in Northern Ireland which currently moves goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or brings goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK should sign-up for the TSS service without delay,” she said.
The TSS has been established by the government to help firms involved in GB:NI trade to adapt to changes in trading administration that take effect on 1 January 2021.
The latest in the NI Chamber’s quarterly research found that although the NI economy showed some signs of recovery in the third quarter of this year, some businesses have not seen any signs of improvement.
The sobering findings reveal that despite government support in the form of the job retention scheme, loans and grants, half of members told the survey they have already or planned to shed jobs.
Around half of businesses said domestic sales and cash flow were getting worse, while about 13% have seen no sign of improvement or are at risk of closure. Economists likened the situation to a constant feeling of doom hanging over businesses.
McGregor said that with the Northern Ireland economy in a fragile state, more targeted intervention was required.
The survey showed that the COVID crisis has led to preparation for transition-end slipping down the ‘must do’ list for Northern Ireland businesses. With less than three months left until the transition period ends and new trading rules come into place, just 39% are currently making preparations, compared to 60% in Q1 2020.