Hard Brexit fears for 20,000 jobs and €18bn cost to the economy

A hard Brexit could trigger an 8% slowdown in the economy and hit several sectors. The stark warning is in a review of Brexit outcomes, which looks at areas that might be worst hit.

Agri-food could be most damaged, especially beef, dairy, and food processing companies, the Government- commissioned report is expected to say, which will be published today after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Some 20,000 jobs could be lost and €18bn slashed from the economy, the Copenhagen Economists dossier says. It also suggests that a worst-case Brexit with new tariffs could slow economic growth by as much 8%.

The report says GDP would be 2.1% lower in 2020 under a hard Brexit. Growth would weaken even more, by as much as 7% by 2030, if fresh World Trade Organisation tariffs were then applied. This would happen if full customs were applied and there was significant regulatory divergence between Dublin and London.

The report looked at four different hard Brexit models. The best outcome for Ireland would be a so-called Norway model, where there would still be full access for Britain to the single market and limited tariffs or trade restrictions.

The report, for Business Minister Heather Humphreys, looks at the slowdowns and breaks down sectoral threats.

It is also expected the report will outline reduced British visitors coming here after Brexit as well as impacts on other sectors, including the aviation, pharmaceutical and computer industries.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted a deal to avoid a hard border in the North with Brexit, agreed last December, still stands. After a meeting with British prime minister Theresa May in the North, Mr Varadkar insisted the preference was to agree a “comprehensive free trade and customs agreement”.

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