Manufacturing in the UK
German industry lobby group warns against imposing trade restrictions on the UK should a Brexit happenReuters

The head of Germany's leading industry lobby group Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie (BDI) has said it would be "very foolish" and "counterproductive" if the EU imposes trade barriers on the UK, should the British public vote to leave the EU following Thursday's (23 June) referendum.

Speaking to the BBC World Service, Markus Kerber, director general of BDI, said: "Imposing trade barriers, imposing protectionist measures between our two countries – or between the two political centres, the European Union on the one hand and the UK on the other – would be a very, very foolish thing to do in the 21st Century."

He added that the BDI would urge politicians on both sides to come up with a trade regime that enables the UK and Germany to "uphold and maintain" current trade levels despite difficult the circumstances a potential Brexit would result in.

Kerber said any introduction of tariffs would lead to job losses in Germany and the UK.

While expressing his wish that the UK would rather remain in the EU, he added that a vote to leave would create "serious disruption" to the German-UK economic relationship, choosing to describe it "as if a relative had left the family".

A recent survey, of 215 companies with business ties to the UK by the BDI and Deloitte, noted that the possibility of a Brexit and its consequences is generating great uncertainty among German businesses.

Two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed said that they were unable to predict the impact of a Brexit on their company. Furthermore, 30% expect to see "negative consequences" for their business, with 43% envisaging an imposition of high tariffs by London, should the EU decide to go down that rout in the wake of a Brexit.