Brexit may derail ‘£1bn worth of global trade’ for the North

Confederation of British Industry issues sobering warning for NI in the event of no deal

The CBI warned that many NI firms are unaware it is not just relationships with EU customers that would suffer if the UK crashes out of Europe, but that trade ‘relationships across the globe’ would also be threatened.

The CBI warned that many NI firms are unaware it is not just relationships with EU customers that would suffer if the UK crashes out of Europe, but that trade ‘relationships across the globe’ would also be threatened.

 

Northern Ireland business worth more than £1 billion with countries which have trade agreements with the European Union could be severely damaged in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in the North has warned.

CBI Northern Ireland director Angela McGowan said on Thursday that many firms are unaware it is not just their relationships with EU customers that would suffer if the United Kingdom crashes out of Europe, but that trade “relationships across the globe” would also be threatened.

“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, ” she said.

The CBI said that the Northern Ireland economy was “facing a multimillion pound blow in the event of a no-deal Brexit due to the collapse of international trade deals”.

In Northern Ireland, exports to countries with EU free-trade agreements are worth more than £1 billion every year, according to the CBI – accounting for 12 per cent of the North’s exports. This figure equates to the annual salaries of 30,000 nurses, it said.

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The CBI added that through these agreements Northern Ireland exports goods worth £480 million to Canada each year, with the machinery and transport sector among the most exposed.

“If the UK leaves with no-deal, these exports risk having immediate tariffs imposed overnight, costing the Northern Irish economy millions of pounds,” it said.

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

“Exports to countries with EU free-trade agreements are worth more than £1 billion to Northern Ireland every year. 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,” said Ms McGowan.

“It is vital compromise is shown on both sides of the channel and politicians work quickly to come to a deal,” she added.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil and SDLP leaders Micheál Martin and Colum Eastwood in a joint statement called on all pro-Remain parties to “recognise and invoke five core principles necessary to stave off the worst outcomes of Brexit”.

  • They said parties must remain firm on the backstop;
  • That a no-deal Brexit must be voted down;
  • Unionists must be reassured that constitutional change only can happen through the consent principle of the Belfast Agreement;
  • Remain parties must recommit to reconciliation;
  • Key to forming a pro-Remain alliance worthy of more than joint press statements lies in the restoration of Stormont.

“An Executive is vital if we are truly to protect our economy, farms and businesses from the fall-out of Brexit,” said Mr Martin and Mr Eastwood who recently signed off on a formal partnership between Fianna Fail and the SDLP.

“The arithmetic in Westminster no longer allows us to leave anything to chance. Brexit can only be stopped by actions, not words or placards. Extraordinary times call for more than ordinary measures,” they added.

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