Businesses north and south of the border reflect a mood of ‘nervousness and uncertainty’ according to the latest quarterly Business Monitor Report covering July to September released by InterTradeIreland.
While 32% of businesses still say they are growing, this figure is at its lowest level for 36 months.
On the other hand, the report claims a small increase in the numbers reporting that growth is declining pointing to more of a slowing in overall growth than any signs of contraction at this point.
Sales figures also show a positive though declining balance.
Rising costs is the biggest issue now facing businesses pointing to the emergence of inflationary pressures. However, for those involved in cross-border trade and export activity, currency exchange rates between sterling and the euro are the biggest issue they face, with 45% reporting it as a key issue.
Surprisingly, the issue is high for both Northern Ireland and Ireland exporters, indicating the strong supply chain linkages across the border.
The sense of uncertainty is captured in the fact that almost the same amount of Northern Ireland businesses think a UK exit from the EU will have a negative impact on cross-border sales (23%) as those believing it will be positive (20%). In Ireland, almost half (46%) of firms believe cross-border sales will be negatively impacted with only 9% believing it will be positive.
“Against an economic backdrop that is slowing there is undoubtedly a role for InterTradeIreland to help businesses, primarily those small businesses that are, and have the potential, to trade across the border,” said Aidan Gough, director of strategy and policy.
“It is clear that there are information gaps that are perhaps hindering their development planning.”