Belfast Telegraph

A no-deal Brexit will hit UK's trade with rest of the world: CBI

By David Hughes

Trade with countries around the world would be hit by a no-deal Brexit putting jobs across the UK at risk, ministers have been warned.

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) sounded the alarm about the prospect of the UK losing the benefits of trade deals struck by the European Union with other economies.

CBI president John Allan warned "the consequences are serious", including the possibility of car companies in the UK falling out of global supply chains.

He said the risk underlined the importance of politicians in Westminster and Brussels agreeing a deal and securing a transition period during which the trade arrangements would remain in place.

The share of EU global trade covered by deals to reduce barriers is estimated to reach 40% this year, and losing those benefits poses "a great risk for jobs in local communities", Tesco chairman Mr Allan said.

"If the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, we could cease overnight to enjoy the benefits of tariff-free trade with, and preferential access to, markets of fundamental importance for British products and services, from Japan to Turkey," Mr Allan added.

The CBI said some 40 trade deals spanning five continents were at risk, covering some 32% of global GDP - rising to 37% if countries where agreements are partly in place are included.

Mr Allan said: "Individual businesses in every corner of the UK that trade with markets outside Europe would have tariffs worth hundreds of millions of pounds slapped on them instantaneously.

"Car companies risk being dropped from complex global supply chains that support these deals, and services firms risk losing vital protections that allow them to operate abroad.

"And by no longer being part of the EU's trade deals, the UK will miss out on golden trade opportunities that have been years in the making.

"Indeed, these trade deals - spanning five continents - form the bedrock of our exports.

"This looming danger has been widely overlooked and is yet another reason to add to the lengthy list of why no-deal is not an option for the UK economy, and is a great risk for jobs in local communities.

"It is critical that compromise on both sides of the Channel is shown and that politicians work together quickly to come to a deal.

"With the UK remaining a member of these deals throughout the transition period, we will then have the necessary time to focus on getting the trade deals that will lie at the heart of the UK's future prosperity right."

The CBI's warning comes a day after business advisory firm EY warned that Northern Ireland could slip into a short recession in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

EY Ireland chief economist Neil Gibson also forecast that a no-deal could bring 11,400 job losses across a number of sectors - with those most vulnerable to consumer spending hardest hit.

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