Posted on Friday 11 January 2019 by John Mulgrew

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Top economists say forecasting the state of Northern Ireland’s economy has never been harder due to ongoing political uncertainty and turmoil, Ulster Business can reveal.

Writing in Ulster Business as part of the Outlook for 2019, EY’s chief economist, Neil Gibson, says “in 20 years as a professional economist, I have never had less confidence in predicting the year ahead than I do now”.

“At the time of writing, the nature of the UK’s departure from the EU remains unclear,” he said.

“Estimates of the economic impact of various exit scenarios ranged from 5-8% in a catastrophic exit (by 2023)”

He said that “Brexit is far from the only uncertainty ahead. Trade wars are continuing, oil prices are slumping and stock markets are incredibly volatile.

“The Northern Ireland economy’s labour market has surprised me over the past 18 months. I hope that it continues to outperform expectations in 2019.

“Hopefully, there will be a transition period in place with a clear roadmap to a future free trade agreement between the EU and UK which may prevent the scale of slow-down I worry may be coming. While on the subject of wish-casting, let us hope that the Executive is back and operating too in 2019. If all these pieces fall into place then next year’s outlook for 2020 will be much easier to write.”

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