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A ‘Hard Brexit’ will cause serious damage to Ireland’s dairy and beef sectors, reveals new research from Trinity Business School.

According to research from Frank Barry, Professor of International Business & Economic Development at the Trinity Business School, Irish beef and dairy sectors face significant challenges in the case of a hard Brexit.

With a default to World Trade Organisation rules looking increasingly likely, agri-food businesses face losing market access as agriculture and food face particularly high tariffs under WTO rules.

Irish agri-food businesses would lose access to the UK market, and so would need to find new markets to sell to.

The UK also exports substantial quantities of beef and dairy products to the EU however. The increased barriers the UK would face would leave a vacuum that would afford some opportunities for Irish exporters.

Revealed comparative advantage (RCA) analysis suggests that while Irish beef might be reasonably well positioned to replace British exports, this is not the case for dairy, where brand names are extremely significant.

A possibility suggested by the analysis is that Ireland’s industrial development agencies redouble their efforts to attract the firms that produce these brands to come to Ireland. The policy implication applies much more broadly than just to the dairy sector.

Brands are extremely important in certain other sectors in which UK-based firms will also suffer diminished access to the EU market if no UK-EU trade agreement is reached over the coming weeks.

Frank Barry, Professor of International Business & Economic Development at the Trinity Business School, says:

“We have a very strong record of attracting multinational companies to Ireland. This record of achievement can be leveraged to offset some of the damage to Ireland that Brexit will undoubtedly entail”.

Link to research paper:


For more information, a copy of the research paper, or to speak to Frank Barry, contact Jonny Stone at

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