Billions of pounds at risk from Brexit, CBI warns

Over half a trillion pounds of investment between the UK and Europe could be put at risk from a Brexit industry chiefs have warned.

The CBI and business leaders from Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands, said EU membership is a vital factor in the UK maintaining and attracting £377 billion worth of investment from these four countries alone. In turn, they said the UK has £185billion of investments tied up in these nations.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: “Anyone in business, small or medium or large, knows that partnerships do not form overnight, they take years to establish their true value. European businesses are clear that 40 years’ worth of collaboration through the EU is critical to attracting investment to the UK – let’s not turn our back on our closest partners. We must not put barriers in the way that could risk over £550billion worth of investment which support jobs across the country. Why would we choose to break the world’s strongest cross-border trading partnership, which has been four decades in the making?”

Dr Markus Kerber, director-general of the German industry association BDI, said a Brexit would result in greater uncertainty for German investors in the UK.

“Almost 9% of total foreign direct investment in the UK comes from German business,” he said. “Companies react to uncertainty by delaying or reducing their investment. This would also be true for German investors. Non-tariff barriers in services will likewise increase after an exit. Depending on the scenario, barriers and tariffs on goods may hamper trade too. Integration of British manufacturing and services would prove even more difficult in European value chains further leading to German business leaving the UK.”

Ana Plaza, secretary general of CEOE in Spain said a Brexit would have a “major knock-on effect” for the whole EU.

“And full access to the Single Market is a vital part of the UK’s attractiveness as a place to invest and create jobs. All of our members, 40 national business federations from 35 European countries strongly hope that the UK will continue to remain an active and positive member of the EU.”