Ironing out of details still needed, say businesses
Businesses say a "breakthrough" on Brexit talks which could avoid a hard border is welcome but that details still have to be ironed out "swiftly".
Theresa May struck a last minute deal with the EU to move Brexit talks on to the next phase.
Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it "welcomes the 'sufficient progress' that has been made in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations".
"Business will particularly welcome the commitment made towards no hard border on the island of Ireland, and they will also be relieved that the UK market, as well as the all island market, will be protected."
But she said there are "details that need to be confirmed swiftly in the new year when negotiators move on to the big questions around our future trade relationship with the EU".
Neil Gibson, chief economist with EY in Ireland, said while business should "remain upbeat" the crucial next step is what happens as negotiations proceed.
"We are at the next phase. It would have been embarrassing if the UK and EU couldn't have gotten to the stage where we can talk about this," he said.
Angela McGowan, CBI director in Northern Ireland, said "businesses in Northern Ireland will welcome news of today's breakthrough and to negotiations moving on to the all-important second phase".
"With further progress made on transition and guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens, we move a step closer to achieving the clarity and stability we need to protect jobs, improve living standards and deliver prosperity for all citizens in Northern Ireland."
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) NI policy chair, Wilfred Mitchell, said: "Northern Ireland's small businesses will be pleased to hear that finally it appears the Brexit talks are about to move onto the second stage.
"The focus must now shift to the UK's future trading relationship with the EU."
Glyn Roberts, the chief executive of Retail NI, said the organisation is "pleased that this is an essential part of this deal".