Brexit to trigger 12% drop in exports for Northern Ireland, academic tells Queen's debate
A Brexit will "make everyone poorer" in Northern Ireland as foreign investment dwindles and exports fall, a leading academic has said.
Research by Dr Edgar Morgenroth, associate research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), kicked off a heated discussion and debate at Queen's University last night. "My assessment is that the Brexit might make some people in the UK feel better, but it is my view it will make everyone poorer. That's the economic side to the debate," he said.
PwC economist Dr Esmond Birnie, who was also on the panel, said the impact to the living standards of people here may not be significant, through fewer people entering Northern Ireland if the vote was to leave the EU in June's referendum.
He said Northern Ireland would have bigger economic issues to face than a potential Brexit.
Dr Morgenroth said "we have a lot of uncertainty now" and that if there was up-to-date data on foreign direct investment (FDI) "we would see that dry up".
"The attractiveness of the UK and Northern Ireland for FDI would be significantly reduced if there are trade impacts," Dr Morgenroth said.
He added Northern Ireland could see exports fall by 12% if the UK voted to leave the EU.
Dr Morgenroth outlined what areas of business the UK could have to renegotiate with, outside the EU.
They would include trade, foreign investment, energy and migration.
Dr Birnie said the lack of trade tariffs within the EU "reduces our trade with the rest of the world". Queen's University vice-chancellor Patrick Johnston said his institution was firmly in favour of staying in the EU.
He said there was no doubt "we remain stronger in Europe as universities".
Also involved in last night's debate were Angela McGowan, chief economist with Danske Bank, and Paul MacFlynn of think-tank the Nevin Economic Research Institute.
Mr MacFlynn said Northern Ireland had a "particular structure that makes us more vulnerable" to an exit from the European Union.
Ms McGowan said the arguments over EU regulation had been "overdone" and that laws had "increased productivity" among some firms here.