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Forecast: Brexit could hit UK-Ireland trade by a fifth

Trade between the UK and Ireland could be reduced by as much as a fifth if Britain pulls out of the European Union, a conference has heard, writes Colm Kelpie.

Trade in goods would fall by €3bn (£2bn) and services by €5bn (£3.5bn), the conference, hosted by the Irish Exporters Association, was told. Ana Boata, economist with credit insurance company Euler Hermes, said her organisation was expecting just a 10% probability of an British exit. But she told the event that there would be a cost to the Irish economy if it were to happen.

"We really think that Brexit negotiations with Europe are not likely to be very easy, and we see increased uncertainty and delayed investments," Ms Boata said.

"Companies don't like uncertainty. Overall we would imagine a slowing down of GDP growth in both countries.

"If it happens, we can imagine that there would be higher export and import prices, lower producer prices, higher consumer prices, lower volumes, company turnover pressures and profitability pressures. Trade between the UK and Ireland would be reduced by as much as 20%."

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU ahead of a vote by the end of 2017, and is due tomorrow to set out his reform plans in more detail at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

Dermot Curran, assistant secretary general at the Department of the Taoiseach, a new unit established in April to help improve economic co-ordination with the UK, said the Irish government was ensuring Ireland's interests were heard in the debate.

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