BERLIN The impact of a "hard Brexit" on Germany would be severe, the president of Germany's DIHK Chambers of Industry and Commerce said in a media interview published on Saturday.
Eric Schweitzer told the Funke media group that Britain was Germany's third most important export partner and shipments had already dropped by nine percent in the fourth quarter.
He said the European Union should take a tough line in Brexit negotiations with Britain.
"EU membership is based on the free movement of services, goods, capital and workers ... Britain now wants to benefit from the first three but do away with the free movement of workers and that's not possible, above all because there could then be copycats," Schweitzer said.
Britain, which voted last June to quit the EU, is about to start two years of tough exit negotiations with the bloc.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly said that post-Brexit Britain can only get access to the EU's Single Market if it accepts the freedom of movement of workers.
(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Stephen Powell)