Friday 19 January 2018

'Brexit likely to hurt growth here'

NTMA warns investors that UK recession after EU exit will hit Ireland

Britain has so far avoided any signs of an economic shock since last June’s Brexit vote but the longer-term impacts remain unknown. Photo: Getty Images
Britain has so far avoided any signs of an economic shock since last June’s Brexit vote but the longer-term impacts remain unknown. Photo: Getty Images
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Brexit will slow Irish growth in 2017, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has warned bond investors.

The UK may enter recession after it leaves the EU and for every 1pc drop in UK gross domestic product (GDP) Ireland's growth may fall by 0.3pc to 0.8pc, the NTMA said in a presentation to investors.

In the same document, the NTMA, which is responsible for managing the national debt, said that the €13bn that Apple has been ordered to pay to Ireland in back-taxes is not included in Irish funding plans.

The money may never be paid, because Apple and Ireland have appealed the controversial ruling - or could be claimed by other countries, the NTMA said.

Read more: Dublin is 'default destination' for Europe hub if Brexit costs UK access to single market

As a result, it "has made no allowance for these funds" when it looks at Ireland's funding needs.

Meanwhile, the NTMA sees a real risk Ireland will be hit by Brexit.

Britain has so far avoided any signs of an economic shock since last June's Brexit vote, data yesterday even showed the UK jobless rate has fallen to the best level since 1975, but the longer-term impacts remain unknown.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to begin the formal exit process this month.

The NTMA said that Ireland's growth data for 2016 will not be much affected by Brexit, but this year is likely to see some impact, the presentation said.

Preliminary data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show the Irish economy grew by a better than expected 5.2pc last year. However, in the investor presentation published on its website, the NTMA also warns investors' standard measures like debt to GDP are distorted in the Irish case.

"GDP and GNP are exaggerated by the activity of multinational companies; behind the headline numbers, Ireland's growth has slowed but is still one of the fastest in the euro area," the presentation said.

Rather than look at debt to GDP, the NTMA recommends other measures including debt to government revenue - which stands at 277pc, interest costs as a share of revenue (8.6pc) and the average interest rate on Ireland's debt (3.1pc).

Read more: Analysis: The wait may be almost over, but is Ireland ready to handle Brexit?

The report also highlights how quickly Irish exports react to currency fluctuations.

A 1pc fall in the euro increases Irish goods exports to the US by 1pc, the NTMA said.

The equivalent response for exports to the UK is 1.1pc. But since the June vote the euro has been stronger against the pound, so Irish firms are hit with the opposite effect.

Trade with the UK, at more than €1bn each way a week, remains vital to Ireland's overall economy. The UK is the second largest single country for Irish goods exports and the largest market for Irish services.

Around 30pc of Irish goods imports are from the UK. Crucially 30pc of all Irish jobs are in sectors most tightly linked to UK exports - including food and tourism.

Alan McQuaid of Merrion Capital said: "The trade outlook for 2017 and beyond remains clouded in uncertainty, but we are still anticipating another solid performance this year. Indeed, based on the very positive start to the year, another record surplus now looks on the cards of around €47bn to €48bn."

Irish Independent

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