US trade deal 'would have modest benefits for Northern Ireland'

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Boris Johnson and Donald TrumpImage source, Getty Images

A UK trade deal with the United States would have modest benefits for Northern Ireland, government analysis suggests.

The analysis estimates a deal would be worth an additional £94m to the NI economy.

That represents an increase in GDP, or total economic output, of less than 0.2%.

The UK has published its negotiating objectives for a trade deal with the US, with talks expected to begin this month.

The US is Northern Ireland's second-biggest export market, after the Republic of Ireland.

An Office of National Statistics (ONS) analysis, using data from 2016, found about a quarter of Northern Ireland's goods exports go the US.

Those exports had a value of around £1.7bn.

The government analysis does not attempt to assess what impact the Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol would have on trade with US.

Under the Protocol NI will remain part of the EU's single market for goods while the rest of the UK will not.

That could mean that even if there is a UK-US deal, some US goods would still face significant non-tariff barriers in Northern Ireland.

An important market

The US is a particularly important market for manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and machinery.

In 2016 almost 60% of Northern Ireland exports of chemicals, the broad sector covering pharmaceuticals, went to the US.

For machinery and transport equipment the proportion of going to the US was 21%.

Finished pharmaceutical products are already exported to the US without tariffs under the World Trade Organisation's Pharmaceutical Tariff Elimination Agreement.

Northern Ireland is also an important investment destination for US services firms such as Allstate and Citi.

The government said the negotiating objectives set out that any agreement must protect the NHS and uphold the UK's high standards on food safety and animal welfare.