Belfast Telegraph

Brexit would hit Northern Ireland harder than rest of UK says economic report

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland’s economy will be hit harder than the rest of the UK partly due to its land border with the Republic, according to a major fresh report.

Oxford Economics says that “overall our modelling indicates that Northern Ireland’s economy is likely to be relatively more vulnerable to the type of structural changes triggered by a UK exit from the EU in comparison to the rest of the UK.”

The report was commissioned by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) on the economic implications of a Brexit.

The UK economy as a whole is predicted to shrink in the event of Brexit, while Northern Ireland will retract at a stronger rate.

The report says the main reasons for Northern Ireland being impacted more heavily than elsewhere in the UK also includes stronger trade links with the Republic, compared with Great Britain.

And Northern Ireland’s “relatively high level” of foreign direct investment is another reason why the region could be harder hit.

Manufacturing could also be hit harder than other areas of business.

The report says Northern Ireland’s manufacturing industry currently “has a relatively high dependence on the food, beverage and tobacco and transport equipment” sectors which are more “at risk”.

And the report says in the best scenario, Northern Ireland will be unaffected by the potential disruption of leaving the EU.

The analysis was built on a wider project across the UK, which examined nine alternative scenarios which could occur if there was to be a Brexit.

That included signing a free-trade agreement, joining a customs union or retaining the UK's membership of the European Economic Area.

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