Talk of Irexit ignores economic realities
Sir, – Two major considerations should contextualise any discussion of the Irexit possibility raised by Prof Ray Kinsella (Opinion & Analysis, August 31st). The first is the overwhelming extent to which Irish-owned exporting companies are dependent on the UK market. The UK accounts for under 14 per cent of our total exports – behind the US and Belgium – but over 40 per cent of indigenous exports. Following the UK out of the EU would only increase our dependence on that market. Furthermore, if a post-Brexit UK experiences a curtailment of trade, it risks becoming a supplier of low-technology products to low-technology markets, according to a recent speech by Ben Broadbent, deputy governor of the Bank of England. Is that where we see ourselves?
Second, most of our exports to Europe – 40 per cent of the total – are the products of foreign direct investment in Ireland. Were Irexit to occur, these firms would have to export to Europe under World Trade Organisation rules, with accompanying tariffs and custom procedures. Would they continue to invest in an Ireland outside the EU?
Rather than follow the UK out of the EU, we have to plan how to replace any exports lost there by developing our EU possibilities. State support should be focused on EU markets, where we have free access, similar regulatory environments and the euro. This is a national priority. Talking of opportunities at the ends of the earth and increasing diplomatic representation worldwide seem a distraction in these circumstances. – Yours, etc,