Increased regulatory burdens due to Brexit have hit 54% of businesses, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

Data, published by the CSO, shows that 40% of enterprises had difficulty sourcing raw materials or intermediate products from suppliers abroad due to Covid-19.

More enterprises - 47% - purchased goods and materials from suppliers abroad than supplied to enterprises overseas - 24%.

The UK was the most popular location for both global purchasing and supplying of goods and materials and services, the data shows.

The Northern Ireland Protocol was created as part of the Brexit agreement as a way to avoid a hard land border on the island of Ireland.

It did so by moving regulatory and customs processes to the Irish Sea, creating new checks on goods being shipped from Britain to Northern Ireland.

Colin Hanley, statistician in the business statistics division, said that the results of this publication show the level of participation in global value chains (GVC) arrangements in 2020.

"Almost half (47%) of enterprises, with 50 or more persons engaged, purchased goods and materials abroad for use in their own production, while 24% supplied goods and materials abroad.

"More than a third, 35%, purchased services abroad, while 22% supplied services to another firm overseas."

More than nine in ten manufacturing enterprises purchased goods, materials from abroad, while 82% supplied goods materials.

Manufacturing also had the highest proportion of firms purchasing services from abroad.

Almost a third of enterprises in the services sector supplied services abroad in 2020.

Almost four in ten businesses indicated that they purchased goods and materials from the UK, while 35% purchased from the European Union, excluding Ireland.

Almost one in ten businesses purchased from a European country outside the EU and UK, while 21% purchased from the rest of the world.

Covid-19 impacted GVC arrangements both home and abroad.

Due to the pandemic, more than two in five enterprises had difficulty acquiring raw materials or intermediate products from suppliers domestically, while 40% said they had difficulty with suppliers from abroad.