UCD economist Colm McCarthy believes the Republic of Ireland must agree better post-Brexit trading terms with Britain, than would be the case with Northern Ireland.

“This objective simply reflects the volume of business which the Republic of Ireland does with both regions.

“There is an 11-fold difference in trade terms, in favour of Britain. So it makes sense for exporters in the Republic of Ireland to have preferential access to markets in England, Scotland and Wales.

In essence, a Brexit deal that gives good access for the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland, but inhibited access to Britain, is a bad outcome for Irish agriculture.

McCarthy spoke at the recent ‘Sustainable Irish Food Production in 2025’ veterinary conference, hosted by MSD Animal Health.

He said it was highly unlikely that the UK will agree a comprehensive free-trade deal with the EU-27 before the Brexit Date of March 29, 2019.

“Negotiations will not get underway in a serious manner until the autumn of this year. This is because of the upcoming General Elections in the UK and Germany.

“Nothing will happen during the summer months of 2017. There will also be a requirement for a substantial ratification period, regarding whatever deal is arrived at.

“This, in turn, will reduce the amount of actual negotiating time available to both parties to around 12 months.”

McCarthy said that a transition trade deal of some sort will, most likely, be put in place to ensure an ordered departure for the UK from the EU.

“Reverting to World Trade Organisation rules on March 30, 2019, makes no sense at all. In any event, these regulations will not kick-in automatically.

“Separate negotiations would have to take place between the UK and the World Trade Organisation, in order to make this a reality.”

McCarthy said that additional problems would be created for the Republic of Ireland if the UK was to leave the Customs’ Union.