THE North-East’s position as a dominant exporter will be affected if the UK withdraws from the EU, businesses have warned.

A North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) survey said companies in the region are concerned about leaving the EU, with many calling for powers to be returned from Brussels.

The NECC, which represents about 4,000 businesses, said 62 per cent of firms questioned believed it would be a negative move to leave the EU.

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Only 13 per cent see a change as a positive shift, with 61 per cent asking for some power to be given back to the UK.

The report added concerns over any move leaving would be tempered slightly if a trade agreement was renegotiated.

Ross Smith, NECC director of policy, said: “As the North-East is the UK’s best performing region for exports, and a big attractor of foreign investment, our future relationship with the EU is of great importance to many businesses here.

“It is clear NECC members have major concerns about the impact of withdrawal.

“However, those who favour remaining in the EU do believe businesses would benefit if some decisions were made in the UK rather than in Brussels.

“Many of our members have expressed concern about prescriptive employment regulations, bureaucratic public procurement procedures, and restrictions over how European funding can be used in the region.”

Recent export figures showed the Netherlands continues to buy more North-East goods than anywhere else in the world, ahead of the US, France and Spain.