CBI warns no-deal Brexit could cost north's economy millions of pounds overnight

A NO-deal Brexit could cost the Northern Ireland economy millions of pounds overnight, the CBI has warned.
Gareth McKeown

A NO-deal Brexit could cost the Northern Ireland economy millions of pounds overnight, the CBI has warned.

The business organisation has said if the UK leaves the EU on March 29 the immediate collapse of international trade deals could leave firms in the north facing hefty tariffs.

The UK currently benefits from extensive trade agreements as an EU member, spanning around 70 countries, with the CBI estimating this to be worth over a third (37 per cent of its global GDP.

In the north, exports to countries with EU free trade agreements are worth more than £1 billion every year, accounting for 12 per cent of the nation's exports.

Of this total, goods worth £480m are exported to Canada each year, with the machinery and transport sector among the most exposed to a no-deal scenario.

If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, CBI Northern Ireland director, Angela McGowan believes the resultant tariffs could cost the local economy millions of pounds and jeopardise jobs.

“If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, overnight businesses in Northern Ireland could cease to enjoy the benefits of tariff-free trade with, and easy access to, crucial markets for products and services, from Canada to South Korea," Ms McGowan said.

“Many firms are unaware it is not just their relationships with EU customers at risk from a no deal Brexit, but relationships across the globe.

“Individual businesses trading with markets outside the EU would face tariffs worth millions of pounds being slapped on them instantaneously. These trade deals span five continents and are vital for the smooth export of our goods and services."

"The risk to these deals is an overlooked danger to our economy and yet another reason why no deal is not an option for the UK and jeopardises jobs in our communities. It is vital compromise is shown on both sides of the Channel and politicians work quickly to come to a deal," she added.

Earlier this month the CBI warned that post-brexit immigration restrictions could cause "significant harm" to a Northern Ireland economy reliant on EU labour.

A CBI study said that should the £30,000 salary threshold recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee be introduced the north's economy would suffer due to its low salary levels and reliance on EU labour.

According to the figures 71 per cent of workers in the north earn below the £30,000 marker, with the median private sector wage of £22,016, almost £2,000 less than the UK equivalent (£24,006).

In a separate report, published last year, the CBI claimed that if EU migration is cut by 50 per cent, the north's economy will be five per cent smaller by 2041.

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