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Northern Ireland exporters will be helped by ongoing fall in pound's value

By Margaret Canning and PA

Exporters will benefit from fall in sterling, it has been claimed
Exporters will benefit from fall in sterling, it has been claimed

Northern Ireland's exporters will benefit from the continued fall in sterling's value, it's been claimed. The pound's post-Brexit freefall continued yesterday as it tumbled against the US dollar amid mounting fears over the impact of the vote to leave the EU.

At one stage sterling slumped below 1.28 US dollars for the first time since 1985 and also dropped as low as 1.16 euros before paring back losses slightly.

Andy Scott, economist at HiFx, warned there would be further falls for the pound, predicting a drop to 1.25 US dollars and 1.10 euros.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said: "The devaluation of the sterling will be a welcome boost to our exporters - anything that helps our competitiveness, even in the short-term, can only be a good thing.

"However, firms are also finding that imports cost more and this will affect different businesses in different ways. We will have to wait and see how sterling recovers to gauge if there are any longer term impacts."

William Barnett, the chief executive of Belfast-based trading giant WR Barnett, said the currency fluctuations threw up dilemmas. "I think many businesses are pricetakers - they will now get the same world price in dollars or euro, which is higher in sterling now than it was two weeks ago."

Firms would be deliberating if investment was worth it at a time of uncertainty or if they could expand production and take market share at lower prices. But currency was "the least of the issues" facing firms, he said. "Longer-term, surely the path of exit from the EU is the critical variable for many business decisions."

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