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Irish survey lists pharma firms’ top five Brexit concerns

Talent access restrictions topped the list


A survey by the Irish government of companies’ concerns about Brexit has found that access to skilled workers is top of the list for the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors.

Two-thirds of companies polled in the impact assessment said that removal or alteration of reciprocal work, living social and tax arrangements between Ireland and the UK was their greatest concern, as this could lead to a restrictions on access to talent. That could also make it difficult for employees to swap between projects in Ireland and internationally, according to one company.

More than half (56%) of the companies were also worried that they would face restrictions on providing services to or receiving services from UK firms, while the same proportion said that the imposition of trade tariffs was their greatest concern.

For example, one company indicated that it purchases many millions of euro worth of raw materials from the UK and also exports many millions of euro worth of final goods back, so a trade tariff could place them in a difficult competitive position.

The last two of the top five areas of concern dealt with specifications and standards, and were cited by 44% of those surveyed. On the one hand, they fear that there will be no mutual recognition of specifications, and on the other are worried that the UK may opt to impose new or different product standards post-Brexit. In both cases, compliance and testing costs would ramp up.

Unsurprisingly given the border situation between Northern Ireland and the Republic, the absence of a customs union was identified by every company polled as bring either a critical or moderate concern, and almost 90% said they feared the re-establishment of a physical UK border.

Ireland is the world’s seventh-largest producer of pharma and chemical goods, representing a €33.3bn market, and it is a hot spot in Europe for biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Of the 15 industrial sectors analysed in the Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation (DBEI) report, the pharma/chem sector expressed the highest levels of concern about the impact of Brexit on their business.

Ireland also claims to have been able to translate the uncertainty surrounding Brexit to its advantage. In its last interim report, IDA Ireland – which promotes inward investment into the country – estimates that it has won 40 Brexit-related investments since 2016 and is in ongoing discussions with “investors across a number of sectors including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, legal and broadcasters, all of which are looking at their arrangements following Brexit”.

Article by
Phil Taylor

20th June 2018

From: Regulatory



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