Derry’s port could lose 40% of its business in the event of a no-deal Brexit, politicians have been warned.
Brian McGrath, chief executive of Foyle Port, located at Lisahally, said crashing out of the EU would “decimate” operations at the shipping centre.
The harbour engages in worldwide trade in commodities including oil, animal feed and fertiliser.
Mr McGrath said: “We can either be Britain’s most westerly remote port, or we can be a European gateway and we want to be both.
“We are an Irish, European and British port simultaneously and, if we have a hard border and crash out, that is all done.”
Mr McGrath was part of the largest ever trade delegation of Northern Ireland businesses to travel to Westminster.
He said politicians needed to find a way to avoid paying post-Brexit tariffs which would make local business uncompetitive.
“If we have to pay multiple tariffs and customs and bureaucracy that makes us uncompetitive, then we will be out of business,” he said.
“It will decimate the business.
“We are bringing in commodities from all over the world, we are bringing in oil, animal feeds, fertilisers, timber and, if we get a hard border, we could lose 40% of our trade overnight, that is how stark it is. That puts you out of business.
“We are doing really well and we can be a vehicle for further economic growth but we need a deal.
“A no-deal exit from Europe is not an answer for the economy in any shape or form.”
Meanwhile, another local business leader who was part of the delegation to Westminster was Stephen Kelly, the Derry-born head of Manufacturing NI, who said a restored ministerial Executive at Stormont was needed to take critical decisions.
“Northern Ireland punches well above our weight, but we cannot fight with one hand behind our back,” he said.
“We need to set the Northern Ireland business community free.”