RTE 2.4 million jobs could be lost if trade deals are not negotiated with other countries, a prominent economist has warned.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, French economist Philippe Levy warned the EU was currently “locked into an agreement with the US” that is “incompatible with its own national interests”.
The UK and China have both expressed support for a free trade agreement, with the EU insisting it must include a strong commitment to the rule of law and democracy.
Mr Levy said a “greater transparency” in trade agreements was essential.
“A lot of this is about how you can negotiate in the first place,” he said.
“We’re seeing a lot of the same kinds of things we’ve seen before.
We’re getting a bit more information on the way the EU is negotiating.”
He warned of the potential impact of a Brexit on jobs.
“If we leave the EU, we are going to have a trade deficit of almost 40 per cent of GDP,” he told RTE.
“That’s a big amount of jobs.
The question is, will that be good for the economy or bad?”
Mr Levy also said the EU needed to increase its transparency.
“The question of transparency is something that is very important,” he added.
“You have to be able to say what you are going for.
You have to have your hand on the button.”‘
No more ‘fishing boats’ for EU fishermen’After the EU has failed to agree a free-trade deal with the United States, a number of countries are likely to look to the EU as a place to start renegotiating their own trade deals.
In the UK, the UK’s Department for International Trade (DfI) has been working on a deal with China to increase tariffs on Chinese imports, but is yet to have an agreement.
“There are a lot more fishing boats than there used to be,” said Professor Levy.
“It’s hard to get fishermen on board, so we have to start making changes.”
He added that the UK had not been able to reach a deal on the Irish border, which has been at the centre of a trade dispute between Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“I think it is inevitable that in the next few years we will have more border disputes,” he predicted.
“So we need to be ready for those.”