Friday 22 February 2019

Exporters say No vote would spell disaster

Laura Noonan

THE Irish Exporters' Association yesterday added its voice to the chorus of Lisbon Treaty supporters, arguing the treaty's defeat could jeopardise €56bn of EU-bound annual exports.

The move comes ahead of today's launch of a pro-Lisbon campaign fronted by business luminaries including Glen Dimplex's Martin Naughton, C&C's Maurice Pratt and BP's Peter Sutherland.

"Ireland has benefited hugely from being in the EU, with European exports growing from €839m when we joined in 1973 to €56bn last year," said IEA boss John Whelan.

"A No vote would have the effect of unravelling the hard work of exporters over the past decades, would turn away prospective new investors in Ireland and would bring further uncertainty into our current manufacturing sector."

A survey published last week by business lobby group ISME showed the treaty would be rejected by 73pc of owner/managers of small business if a vote were held immediately.

A spokesman for anti-Lisbon lobby group Libertas dismissed the IEA's comments as "scaremongering".

"A No Vote would leave the European Union exactly where it is now -- working well," he added. "We would also ask why the terrible fate outlined by the IEA did not befall the Netherlands, another small country in Europe, when they said a resounding No to the exact same document in 2004?"

Further arguments for the treaty will be unveiled today when the Business Alliance formally calls for a yes vote.

Members of the alliance include Mr Sutherland, Mr Pratt and Mr Naughton, along with Microsoft Ireland managing director Paul Rellis, Dublin Airport Authority boss Declan Collier and former Industrial Development Agency (IDA) boss Padraic White.

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