The island of Ireland is seeing economic growth, but not without some divergence.
The latest quarterly InterTradeIreland report for October to December 2017 shows that the economy across the entire island of Ireland is in a stable position.
According to the latest figures, 94pc of businesses island-wide are stable or growing.
North-south divergence and static employment
Despite the overall growth outlook for the island looking good, only 28pc of companies in Northern Ireland are experiencing growth, compared to 45pc of firms in the Republic.
While the majority of companies reported to be working at, or close to, full capacity, only a small quantity reported an increase in employment, which could be down to the large number of firms operating on relatively low margins.
Aidan Gough, strategy and policy director at InterTradeIreland, said: “There is a healthy business environment on the island, with an impressive 94pc of companies reporting they are in a position of either stability or growth, and 84pc indicating they are working close to or at full capacity.
“While this may be a harbinger of inflationary pressures to come, it could also signal an unwillingness to invest, perhaps until the uncertainty around the future trading relationship between Britain and the EU becomes clearer.”
An overwhelming majority of businesses (98pc) “are still saying they are not formally planning for Brexit. However, we are encouraged by the fact that an increasing number of firms with cross-border sales are revealed as having started informal preparations,” Gough noted.
8pc of companies with cross-border sales have commenced formal planning, but a large increase in informal planning figures shows companies are beginning to consider exactly how Brexit could impact on their respective businesses.
More than 40pc have discussed Brexit impacts with other businesses and 34pc have held internal meetings.
“With the economy in a healthy space, now is the best time to start looking at how Brexit could impact your business, and InterTradeIreland is encouraging SMEs to plan, act and engage in preparation for Brexit,” he concluded.
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