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Cross-border business boss tells of fears for economy over UK exit from EU

By John Mulgrew

A UK exit from the EU could mean "rowing back" on the "positive work and progress" achieved in the last decade across Ireland.

That's according to Thomas Hunter-McGowan, chief executive of cross-border business body InterTradeIreland.

Raising his concerns over the impact a Brexit could have on Northern Ireland, Mr Hunter-McGowan said "unravelling the economic impact on the Northern Ireland region from the rest of the UK makes a challenging position impossible".

"What is clear, however, is that anything that hinders the free flow of goods and services will have a negative economic impact on both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland," he said.

"InterTradeIreland works closely with the two Governments in both Northern Ireland and Ireland and indeed the wider EU Community to ensure that the proper structures and supports are in place to support economic development and foster greater cross-border trade across the island of Ireland.

"To this end, we have made significant progress in creating a positive economic environment resulting in strengthened trade links and cross-border trade worth over £2.6bn annually."

The group was set up following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, building business and other programmes across Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Mr Hunter-McGowan said: "For over 15 years InterTradeIreland has worked as a cross-border agency on an all-island basis, enhancing north-south trade relationships, despite different trading environments, to help SMEs deliver sustained cross-border trading growth to the benefit of both economies. The myriad of systemic links across the border has generated synergies and facilitated the growth of the economies in both jurisdictions."

And he said while "nobody can predict with certainty what the actual effects of an exit vote would be" a remain vote "removes this uncertainty and allows companies to stay on ground that they are familiar with".

Belfast Telegraph