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New report highlights vulnerabilities after leaving EU

Problems affecting the border regions of Northern Ireland and the Republic would be exacerbated by a poorly managed Brexit, according to a new report.

The study, published by 11 councils on either side of the border, highlights the economic and trade vulnerabilities in the region.

It concludes that, even without Brexit, the region already suffers problems that could be exacerbated.

It notes that just two local authority areas here - Mid Ulster and Armagh City, and Banbridge and Craigavon - have productivity levels that in most years outperform the average, which itself is behind the rest of the UK.

The study - entitled Brexit and the Border Corridor on the Island of Ireland: Risks, opportunities and issues to consider' - states: "Despite the fact that the Irish border corridor has received significant amounts of EU and other funding since the 1990s, it continues to lag behind national or regional averages in areas such as productivity and household incomes.

"Given the current levels of cross-border co-dependency across the local authority areas, a poorly managed Brexit could mean economic outcomes where the region falls further behind."

The report estimates that there are around 87,000 businesses in the border region as a whole, 40% of which are in the agricultural sector.

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In 2014, 18% of the Republic's services exports and 14% of goods went into the UK.

In the same year, 58% of Northern Ireland's total exports went to the EU, with more than a fifth of those to countries other than the Republic.

Agri-food is one of the sectors that could be worst hit, north and south, by a hard Brexit.

The report notes that tariffs in the sector could vary considerably. It cites a recent report from InterTradeIreland which stated that the imposition of tariffs could see cross-border trade fall in value by 9%.