Friday 22 November 2019

David Chance: 'Hard Brexit will still pack punch despite falling reliance on UK'

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David Chance

Britain is shrinking in its importance to Ireland's increasingly hi-tech export oriented economy and the impact of Brexit is much smaller than it would have been a decade ago, when the UK and Northern Ireland accounted for just over a sixth of goods exports.

Now that figure stands at just over an eighth. The Central Bank of Ireland's forecast is that although unemployment will rise if there is a hard Brexit, that will be largely due to growing numbers in the labour force, and 73,000 jobs that would have been created will not be.

But don't let that fool you that things will be fine.

The pain from Brexit will hit industries, companies, regions and people that have the least ability to respond to it. According to the Central Bank, 43pc of meat and 35pc of dairy exports went to the UK and, in the case of a no-deal outcome, tariffs in excess of 30pc could be applied to these goods.

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Primary agriculture and the food processing sectors employ around 153,000 people, compared with 230,000 jobs in multinationals. Border counties such as Cavan and Monaghan have the deepest exposures to Brexit- related industries. Dublin has the lowest, with just 3pc of employment in the capital in the agri-food sector, compared with one in seven roles in the Border region in 2016, according to the Central Bank.

An analysis by business group Ibec compiled at the time of the Budget showed that one in three workers in the most Brexit-exposed sectors were over the age of 50, which makes finding new work hard, while three quarters were male and only 17pc had a third-level qualification.

Irish Independent

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