Recovery is gaining momentum across Ireland with twice as many businesses saying they are growing, according to Ireland-wide research.
The quarterly business monitor from cross border body InterTradeIreland said 26% of firms said they had grown from July to September, double the quarter before.
At 31% of the 750 respondents, the proportion reporting rising sales in the Republic and Northern Ireland was the highest since 2007. But at 28% in the south compared to 21% north of the border, more of the Republic's firms said they were growing.
There was a slight rise in the percentage of businesses who were recruiting – but some things hadn't changed, and rising overheads, energy costs and cash flow remained the main bugbears of business on the island.
And southern businesses were also slightly more positive than Northern Ireland firms on the outlook for employment and sales levels – but southern cheer could only benefit Northern Ireland.
Mr Gough said: "While the recovery is across the whole island, it seems that Ireland is now recovering at a faster speed. This upturn in the southern market is reassuring and can also be good news for Northern Ireland businesses as this may open up more opportunities for cross-border export sales and growth into this vitally important neighbouring market."
But 23% of firms said they were still trying to survive at all costs – although the numbers of struggling firms were falling every quarter.
Larger businesses were doing better than smaller ones.