Business owners in Northern Ireland are suffering less at the hands of the recession than their counterparts south of the border, new research revealed today.
While almost three out of four companies in the Republic reported a drop in turnover in the first quarter of the year, up north the figure was substantially less, at just over 40%.
The comparative analysis was undertaken by InterTradeIreland and was based on interviews with 1,000 owners on both sides of the border.
InterTradeIreland's Strategy and Policy Director Aidan Gough said there were signs of growing optimism in Northern Ireland that the worst of the downturn had passed.
"The picture across the island is of a marked differential emerging in business performance North and South," he said.
"There are signs that the recession is bottoming out in Northern Ireland where fewer firms reported falls in turnover than last quarter.
"However, southern companies continue to be more pessimistic"
In terms of job losses, in Northern Ireland 14% of companies shed staff between January and March while in the Republic the figure was 38%.
Sixty per cent of firms south of the border said they had reduced their prices in response to the fall in demand while in the north it was 30%.
Mr Gough added: "It is too early at this stage to make any predictions regarding the timescale for economic recovery.
"The results of our next survey are due in July and will give us a clearer picture.
"InterTradeIreland is taking a proactive stance to support businesses and restore their confidence with initiatives such as our 'Time For Business' Roadshow, our new First Stop Shop Service and Trade Accelerator Voucher Scheme."