New figures from the Central Bank show that the level of non-performing loans among the country's SMEs continue to fall.

The Central Bank said that 11.1% of Irish SME loan balances at the three main small business lenders were non-performing in December of last year, down from 17.5% in June 2018. 

The main reasons for the fall included the clearing of arrears by borrowers and an improvement in the expected repayment capacity of borrowers into the future.

According to the Central Bank's latest Financial Stability Note 4.5% of Irish SME balances have been in arrears for over two years and some loans have been in arrears for up to ten years. 

It also noted that 3.9% of balances are non-performing under supervisory definitions, but the loans are not in arrears. 

Loans to the accommodation and food, agriculture, forestry and Fishing, and wholesale and retail sectors accounted for 65% of NPL balances at the end of last year.

The Central Bank also said that supervisory data suggest that SME's non-performing loan ratios continued to fall in the first half of 2019.