Dutch to be hit hard by any Brexit: study

The Hague: The Netherlands will be hit hard if Britain leaves the EU, a Dutch government think tank warned Thursday, predicting a possible 1.2-percent fall in GDP by 2030 and a 10-billion-euro trade loss.

Britain itself, though, would be affected even more, it said, adding London could take “years” to reforge its trade ties with the European Union if it pulled out of the 28-nation bloc.

“If the United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union, it will affect the Netherlands more severely than other EU countries because of the strong (bilateral) trade relations,” the Central Planning Bureau (CPB) said.

The drop in trade, much of which is carried across the North Sea, “could amount to a GDP loss for the Netherlands of 1.2 percent, or 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion), by 2030”.

And the effects could be even further heightened by less innovation which “could amplify the GDP loss of 10 billion euros by another 65 percent.”

Britons will go to the polls on June 23 to vote in a bitterly divisive referendum.

The OECD last week predicted that Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands would be the first of Britain´s partners to bear the brunt of a Brexit.

And piling on the grim warnings, S&P Thursday published a table of those EU nations which would be hardest hit, placing Ireland, Malta and Luxembourg at the top. The Netherlands was ranked in 7th place, also behind Cyprus, Switzerland and Belgium.

S&P´s survey of 20 nations found they were “in the frontline of economies susceptible to any trade and migratory aftershocks from a decision by the UK to leave”.

According to different scenarios, the drop in the Dutch gross domestic product could add up to a loss of between 450 euros to 1,000 euros ($511-$1,135) per person.

Sectors more tightly interconnected with Britain such as chemicals, plastics, rubber and electronic equipment would bear the brunt, with production losses of up to 5.0 percent, the Dutch CPB report warned.

Those sectors along with the auto industry and food processing account for some 12 percent of Dutch GDP.

That in turn could spark job losses, as well as a fall in wages, the CPB predicted, forecasting as many as 40,000 jobs could be shed across all areas.

“However, in a number of other sectors, employment would increase, such as an additional 15,000 jobs in the low-tech industry and in the sector ´other financial services´,” it said.

But mirroring other recent reports from economic institutions, the Dutch bureau had an even starker warning for Britain.

“The UK is far more dependent on the trade with the EU than vice versa,” it said, highlighting predictions from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which said by 2030 Britain´s GDP could have fallen by 4.0 percent.

“If we assume that innovation would lag behind due to reduced trade levels, these losses may even increase to nearly 9 percent of GDP. In that case, the UK losses would be similar to those experienced during the 2008-2009 crisis.”

The repercussions could be mitigated if the EU were to enter into a separate trade agreement with Britain, but it would take time to negotiate.

Any withdrawal from EU could take two years to complete and a “renegotiation process for various trade agreements will likely last a number of years.”

The intervening years would usher in a period of uncertainty, which could also drag down business confidence. It was also uncertain that all EU members would be in favour of a new trade accord, as “the Brexit-related costs are relatively low for countries in eastern and southern Europe.”

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