Northern Ireland firms say recession is likely due to fears over Brexit and Stormont
A third of local businesses believe it is very likely that Northern Ireland will enter a recession within the next year, according to research.
The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry has released the findings of its latest quarterly economic survey.
The results showed fears around Brexit and the continued impasse at Stormont were having an effect on companies.
The survey found that 35% of NI Chamber members believe Northern Ireland is very likely to go into recession in the next year.
Some 29% also believe it is very likely the UK could be headed for a recession, with a further 9% believing it very likely that there will be a global recession in the next six to 12 months.
The study also revealed that around half of members had either scaled back or completely put on hold investment and growth plans on the back of the UK's vote to leave the EU.
Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber and Industry, said the organisation's survey provided powerful evidence that the negative impact of Brexit would be stronger in Northern Ireland than in any other part of the UK.
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"This is not scaremongering - it is a stark reality check for business leaders, employers, politicians and anyone with a vested interest in the Northern Ireland economy," she added.
"Behind each and every one of these statistics sit thousands of local businesses who are feeling the harsh impacts of Brexit uncertainty and the political vacuum at Stormont.
"This survey is clear evidence that the impact of ongoing Brexit uncertainty is being felt more harshly in Northern Ireland than anywhere else. The lack of a functioning Executive visibly adds to this uncertainty and, combined with Brexit, creates an environment where key strategic business decisions are being abandoned or delayed.
"The Northern Ireland economy cannot flourish without investment by our local businesses. They need the support of government to create an environment which is conducive to this."
Data from the survey, which was published by accountancy firm BDO yesterday, suggested that Northern Ireland's economy was in decline and that the post-recovery gain had been eroded since the EU referendum.
The survey showed that Brexit had impacted negatively on sales for almost half of members.
Costs have risen for 47% of those companies surveyed and a third of members have found that EU nationals are harder to retain and recruit.
The percentage of members saying Brexit has negatively impacted turnover rose from 35% to 46% in the last three quarters.