Brexit no good for New Zealand - expert

Stephen Jacobi
Stephen Jacobi

Business leaders here say it's in New Zealand's best interests that the United Kingdom should stay a part of the European Union (EU).

British voters go to the polls in a month's time to decide whether to quit the world's biggest trading bloc.

Polls suggest they'll stay, but big names including ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson, actor Sir Michael Caine and UKIP leader Nigel Farage want the UK to go it alone.

NZ International Business Forum executive director Stephen Jacobi says it has been "well and truly proven" the UK is better off staying in the EU.

"There are very few credible economic surveys that have determined it would be a net benefit for Britain to leave the EU," he told Paul Henry on Monday, citing a UK Treasury analysis which found households would be an average £4600 (NZ$9871) worse off under 'Brexit'.

It also warned taxes would need to leap 8p in the dollar to compensate for lost economic activity.

The risk for New Zealand comes from the economic instability that would emerge, says Mr Jacobi. There would be "years of negotiation" as the UK re-established economic ties around the world, and it wouldn't necessarily treat New Zealand as a priority.

"Not only will a key market for New Zealand be suffering from some unknown factors, but it will take us a long time to renegotiate our arrangements with Britain and the rest of Europe."

Our trade arrangements with Europe could also be hurt without the "calming influence" of the UK on some of the EU's more protectionist leanings.

"They're the ones who fight against Brussels deciding the optimum size of a potato or the curvature of a banana," says Mr Jacobi. "We want Britain to continue to play that role in Europe."

The UK votes on June 23.


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