Ulster one of few regions to report big export increase
Northern Ireland was one of just three UK regions to report a big increase in exports in the last quarter of 2015, according to a new study.
Research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) showed that the numbers of positive reports from manufacturers were the lowest in seven years.
The biggest declines were in the West Midlands, North West and East Midlands, the survey of more than 3,000 companies showed.
But the biggest increases were in the North East, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
BCC director general John Longworth said: "British exporters have faced considerable challenges in recent months.
"Slowing growth in China and the US, along with the continued weakness in the eurozone, have made it harder for firms to build momentum.
"While the rate of growth has dropped significantly, exports are continuing to grow - a testament to British businesses, particularly in the face of such global uncertainty.
"However, if we are to reverse our longstanding trade deficit then British firms need greater practical support - access to finance, a skilled workforce and good infrastructure connections - if they are to successfully break into new export markets, and this needs to be a national priority for the UK, otherwise we risk being left behind in the global race."
Phil Couchman, chief executive of DHL Express, which helped with the research, said: "Some areas of the UK are showing strong growth in export volumes.
"However, with most regions experiencing declining volumes and the UK's trade gap recently reaching an all-time high, it's more important than ever that we concentrate on supporting more British businesses to export."