Responding to the publication of the draft withdrawal agreement, the national business organisations represented in Northern Ireland CBI NI, FSB NI, IoD NI and NI Chamber of Commerce have made a joint statement:

“The draft withdrawal agreement is a welcome step forward which provides some much needed clarity that local businesses have been calling for.

“While by no means perfect, it provides a platform to move onto the critical next stage and allows work to begin on the formulation of a comprehensive future trade deal.

“Crucially, the provision for an extended transition period offers our members the flexibility and time to adjust to a new relationship with the EU which they must be allowed to do in as smooth and orderly a manner as possible.

“However, neither this, nor the proposed backstop mechanism are the intended permanent solutions and ultimately, successful negotiations require compromise.

“In that spirit, we have been clear that a no-deal Brexit would be deeply damaging and would represent a very bad outcome for businesses, consumers and the economy as a whole. Accordingly, we are pleased to see this agreement and look forward to being involved in the next stages of the process as we move towards the future relationship.”