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Cross-border trade hits an all-time high despite Brexit barrier fears

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Dianne Dodds

Dianne Dodds

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Dianne Dodds

Cross-border trade has reached an all-time high of £6.5bn despite the pressures of Brexit, according to a report.

The research by cross-border body InterTradeIreland said over a third of firms in Northern Ireland buy from suppliers in the Republic, demonstrating how inter-connected the two economies are.

InterTrade's Business Monitor for quarter four last year also reveals that top-line indicators for the economy remain positive - with the vast majority of firms either in growth mode (44%) or stable.

However, the buoyancy does mask some issues in the economy, according to InterTradeIreland, which says there is slack in the system - with nearly a third of businesses operating below capacity (29%), while many micro businesses are just about breaking even (33%)

Sourcing appropriate staff is a growing concern too, with firms citing lack of appropriate skills in the workforce and difficulties in recruiting the right employees. Meanwhile over half of businesses (57%) say moving to a low carbon economy is important and 70% view skills as an enabler to the transition.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: "Northern Ireland is well placed to take advantage of the many opportunities presented by emerging areas such as the transition to low carbon, cyber security, artificial intelligence and block chain technology."

Aidan Gough, InterTradeIreland's designated officer, added: "As the pace of technological change accelerates, both governments in Ireland and Northern Ireland are alive to the fact that the jobs market is changing rapidly."

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