Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg to be hardest hit by Brexit: KPMG report

European Union and the Union flag
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images

The Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg look set to be the biggest losers from a deterioration in relations between the U.K. and the European Union post-Brexit, according to new research from KPMG.

In a departure from Anglo-centric analysis of the economic implications of Brexit on Britain, KPMG's chief economist Yael Selfin has said that these smaller economies – countries with which the U.K. has a large trade surplus – will have the greatest interest in securing a good deal when negotiations are scheduled to get underway at the end of this month.

Ireland, Cyprus and Malta are major net importers of U.K. goods, but are almost insignificant in U.K. imports, according to the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

Meanwhile, the U.K. is one of the largest export markets for both Ireland and Luxembourg, accounting for 14.1 percent and 10.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) respectively.

Larger economies, such as Germany and France, have significantly less to lose from the possible implementation of trade tariffs on the U.K. - U.K. imports account for closer to 3.5 percent and 2.1 percent of German and French GDP respectively. However, restrictions on the labour force could have wider reaching impacts, according to the report.

The largest number of British citizens can be found in Spain (over 300,000), Ireland (250,000), France (over 185,000) and Germany (over 100,000), based on UN 2015 data estimates.

While a departure of EU workers from the U.K. labour market could prove a positive for the domestic economies of these countries, with more people potentially returning home to work; those countries which are dependent on U.K. workers or remittances from the U.K. could be harder hit, says Selfin.

"Remittances from emigrants can make a significant contribution towards national income. Latvia, Croatia, Hungary and Lithuania are the most reliant on remittances in the EU, all with over 3 percent of GDP coming from abroad."

Amongst the countries to be least affected by the U.K.'s departure from the EU include Bulgaria, Finland, Italy, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden, whose economies are less dependent on Britain, according to Selfin's analysis.

"For many countries, one of the most important factors to influence the impact from Brexit will be the goods and services they export to the UK. The effect on domestic economies of migration may be ambiguous," noted Selfin in the report.

"For many Eastern European countries, protecting the workers in and remittances from the UK may be the most important priority, and countries such as Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus rely on British workers.

"Spain, however, may be glad to stem the flow of British pensioners to the economy, whilst Germany may be glad to see greater immigration from Eastern Europe and to repatriate some of its own workforce."