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EDITIONS
Business Day Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 17:36 GMT
Most NI business leaders back euro
Businesses in the west of the province are pro euro

Sixty per cent of business leaders in Northern Ireland back the UK joining the euro, according to a poll commissioned by BBC Northern Ireland.

The support is even stronger in the west and north west of the province.

This is thought to be the first time that the Northern Ireland business community has been asked for its views on the euro on this scale.

In total, 500 chief executives of companies employing more than 10 people were polled by PricewaterhouseCoopers for BBC NI's Business Day on Thursday.

In precise terms, 60.4% of those who expressed a view were in favour, with 39.6% against.

East of the River Bann - broadly the more affluent and commercially developed area of the province - support for the single currency was 56.8%, but west of the river it reached 67.5%.

It was to be expected that closer to the border there would appear to be stronger support for the UK to join the euro.

For traders and many businesses, trade with the 'eurozone' just across the border is part of daily life.

Of course, the critical question for traders in border towns would be joining at the right rate - join too high and the competition problems many face at the moment will be fixed for all time.

'Exchange rates'

In the short term, the approach taken by traders in many of these towns is to be as 'euro friendly' as possible.

They are quick to accept the currency and will often offer a better rate than the banks in an effort to win business, even if this means squeezing profit margins.


Those opposed to any move to join the single currency say that the UK does more business with countries outside the eurozone

James Kerr

However, away from the direct impact of the border, there is also a wider debate among business leaders on the merits or otherwise of joining.

With almost 40% against the currency, this is clearly an issue that deeply divides the business community.

Those in favour say the removal of currency transaction costs would create increased competitiveness, and certainty about the exchange rates would remove risk.

There would also be greater price transparency, allowing direct comparison of suppliers' prices from different eurozone countries.

Those opposed to any move to join the single currency say that the UK does more business with countries outside the eurozone, and receives large amounts of investment from the US.

In addition, they say, there would be higher taxes, and a loss of control over the economy, with interest rates being set by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, instead of, as now, by the Bank of England.

That there is a greater swing in favour in areas that are broadly closer to the border is hardly a surprise - but the clear cut majority overall is interesting.

If the prime minister thought he could repilcate that result right across the UK he might be in a greater rush to hold a referendum.


On BBC NI's Business Day on Thursday, you can have your say on this crucial question.

You can vote by phone, text or e-mail - call 08000 322262 to register a vote by phone.

Alternatively, call 07764 355 202 to text your vote, or e-mail it to businessdayni@bbc.co.uk

Phone and text lines open at 1700 GMT on Thursday and the results will be announced live on It's Your Business on BBC One Northern Ireland television that night.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's business editor James Kerr:
"Those in favour say the removal of currency transaction costs would create increased competitiveness"
See also:

05 Nov 02 | Business Day
18 Oct 02 | N Ireland
15 Oct 02 | N Ireland
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
14 Oct 02 | N Ireland
02 Oct 02 | N Ireland
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