The Irish Exporters Association is holding a conference in Dublin today to help inform interested parties of the potential implications of Britain leaving the European Union and what effect that may have on Irish business.

Simon McKeever, CEO of the Irish Exporters Association, says that Britain is Ireland's most important trading partner, with over 20% of our goods and services exports going to the UK. He says there is something in the region of 200,000 jobs here which are reliant on exports into the UK. On the other side of the equation, Ireland is also a very important export market for the UK - Ireland is the fifth biggest export market that the UK has and about 200,000 jobs over there are reliant on Irish markets. There is a very important bilateral trade relationship between the two countries, he states. He says the key message the IEA is trying to get out today is that it is equally incumbent on both countries to work together to secure the Irish-UK trade relationship in the future. 

Mr McKeever says he does not personally believe that the UK will leave Europe, but he says the country needs to be prepared in case it does leave the EU. He says one thing the business community could do is to mobilise the big Irish diaspora in the UK to encourage people to vote yes in the UK referendum. Pointing out that there is 45,000 Irish directors of UK companies, he says that Irish people have a huge voice in the UK. 

Ana Boata, European Economist at Euler Hermes, says she believes the main problem is what will actually happen before the referendum, adding that it will be some time before it is held. She says that delayed investment and uncertainty is already evident in UK data, and that it could soon become evident in the Irish data. The economist says that  if the UK decides to leave the EU, this will also take a long time to happen - adding that the renegotiation and proper exit will take two years, if not more. She believes that if there are no new trade agreements, the sectors most affected would be services and in terms of goods, agri-food, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and high tech products. 

However, Ms Boata says that the UK leaving the EU could present some investment opportunities for Ireland as it could become the gateway to Europe for countries outside the EU.

MORNING BRIEFS - Japanese shares hit a 15-year high, following a global share rally on hopes Greece will reach a deal with its creditors to prevent from defaulting on payments due at the end of the month. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose over 1% to its highest level since April 2000. This came after Greece offered economic reforms in exchange for the last payment of €7.2 billion from the current aid programme, without which it will not be able to make a €1.5 billion repayment to the IMF. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said new proposals offered by Greece constituted "some progress". But she said more work was needed and "time is short". If Greece fails to make its repayment, it risks crashing out of the single currency. Although no deal has been struck, the blockages on a way to a deal appear to have been cleared.

*** Taxi service company Uber's latest financings will bring its total funding to $10 billion, setting a new record for a US tech company before it goes public. Much of that equity and debt has been raised in the past six months, as the San Francisco-based car-hailing company takes advantage of huge investor appetite for its fast-growing business. The funds will go towards funding its costly expansion to more than 300 cities around the globe. The company is also facing mounting legal fees as it deals with regulatory challenges, and is investing heavily in technological innovations like driverless cars.  Uber's financial firepower is unprecedented - far exceeding the sums raised by Facebook or Google before their initial public offerings.
*** A report from the Central Bank says first-time buyers are 30% less likely to default than those trading up or down.  In a paper yesterday - called Designing Macroprudential Policy in Mortgage Lending: Do First-Time Buyers Default Less? - the Central Bank revealed that first-time buyers are four percentage points less likely to default than "second and subsequent buyers". It reports a default rate for first-time buyers of 10.3%, which is 30.8% lower than that for subsequent buyers.  This supports earlier comments made by Patrick Honohan, the outgoing governor of the Central Bank.