Brexit, wages and skills named top business risks in 2017
The UK's plan to exit the European Union is the biggest fear for Irish firms in 2017, according to a survey by Dublin Chamber of Commerce.
But domestic issues including rising labour costs and political uncertainty are also weighing on businesses.
Just four out of 10 business owners and managers are more optimistic facing into 2017 than they were a year ago. But almost half expect to hire more staff. The Irish economy has so far escaped a major economic fallout from Britain's vote in June to leave the EU, although some sectors including food exporters have been hard hit by a sharp fall in sterling.
However, one in four businesses now see Brexit as their number one concern for the next 12 months, according to the Chamber's Quarterly Business Trends Survey.
The survey, carried out in early December when a wave of public sector pay demands were being made vocally by trade unions, found that labour worries are also weighing heavily on business owners and managers.
The survey showed 15pc of businesses cited wage costs as their biggest worry for the year ahead. A similar number said skills shortages are their main threat. The survey was carried out among almost 300 businesses in the first 10 days of December. Other risks named by business owners and managers were currency fluctuations, changes to US policy under incoming president Donald Trump and congestion.
"It is hard to quantify the full effect that Brexit will have on the Irish economy, but the survey shows that businesses are still concerned about the potential for serious negative impact if the process is not managed correctly. Given the close economic ties between Ireland and Britain - with over €1bn worth of goods and services traded between the two territories every week - it is vital that our trading links with the UK are protected, even as we maintain our strong commitment to Europe," Dublin Chamber ceo Mary Rose Burke said.
The survey found 41pc of companies are more optimistic about the prospects for their business in 2017, 31pc are less optimistic, and 28pc say the outlook is unchanged from this time last year.