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Northern Ireland 'hardest hit if UK leaves'

By Brian Hutton

Published 21/06/2016

Brexit would leave Northern Ireland the worst hit of all economies, the Republic's leading think-tank has warned.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), has predicted farming and food producers could pay a high price if the UK leaves the EU.

In its latest quarterly economic report, the State think-tank suggests barriers to cross-border trade could "heavily" impact the region's prosperity.

Kieran McQuinn, the report's author, said the Republic will also be impacted - though less so - by a knock-on effect.

"Of all the economies in this part of the world we think the Northern Ireland economy will be the worst hit by Brexit, because it is very heavily reliant on agriculture and food processing generally," he said.

"It is also very integrated with the Republic's overall economy.

"Therefore any types of barriers or impediments to trade between it and the Republic, I think will hit it quite heavily."

Mr McQuinn said the ability of Northern Ireland to withstand a fall-out from a Brexit would come down to trade negotiations.

"Another possibility is that they could lose direct aid payments they get as part of the Common Agricultural Policy -so I think the Northern Ireland economy could be hit quite adversely by Brexit."

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