October 3, 2019 / 11:21 AM / 20 days ago

Ireland's central bank chief: Irish border firms most vulnerable to hard Brexit

DUBLIN, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Ireland’s new central bank governor on Thursday said businesses in the border area with Northern Ireland were most vulnerable to a no-deal British departure from the European Union.

In his first speech since assuming the role in September, Gabriel Makhlouf said the central bank’s job was to ensure that risks to Ireland’s economy and financial stability were identified, understood and mitigated.

“This is particularly pertinent for the ‘cliff-edge’ risks associated with a hard or no-deal Brexit,” he told students at the Institute of technology in Dundalk, a town situated less than 15 kms (10 miles) from the Irish border with Northern Ireland.

“Ireland in general is particularly reliant on the UK in areas such as agriculture for exports and manufacturing for imports,” he said.

“The border region where trade relationships are particularly close, is vulnerable with the strong inter-linkages between Irish and UK firms’ supply chains.”

He said the extent of the damage caused by Brexit would only become clear once the UK leaves the bloc and in the way it leaves, adding that a no-deal Brexit would be especially damaging.

Britain is due to leave the EU at the end of October but the two sides have not been able to agree the terms of their divorce. The biggest obstacle remains a deep disagreement over how to keep open the seamless border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Jon Boyle

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