The UK's importance as a trading partner for Ireland has declined significantly, according to research carried out by HSBC Bank.

As part of its Navigator survey, the bank spoke to 9,000 companies in 35 countries. 

Just under half of Irish businesses considered the UK an important trading partner, down from 75% last year.

Alan Duffy, CEO of HSBC Bank Ireland, said it was part of an ongoing trend over the last decade that had been given renewed impetus by Brexit.

"Irish companies are adept at re-pivoting and changing their focus. The UK has always been an important market but there has been an acceleration in diversifying away to other destinations," Mr Duffy said.

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In terms of alternative markets, companies were looking increasingly at France and Germany, but also further afield to North America, Latin America and Asian markets outside of mainland China.

The imposition of tariffs by the US on a range of European imports has become a consideration for companies here, but Alan Duffy said companies were finding their way around that.

"Tariffs will not stop trade. Companies will engineer a way around tariffs. They will reduce margins, acquire companies in the jurisdictions where the tariffs apply or they'll become more adept at using digital channels to deliver product," he explained.

The report also pointed to a Mercosur bounce for Irish companies trading with Latin America.

Sustainability has emerged as an increasingly important consideration for companies operating across diverse markets.

"Regulators, society at large and companies are looking at the implications of climate change that can't be ignored. If you're supplying a large multinational, you'll be incentivised for being more sustainable and environmentally friendly so there is an economic incentive there," he concluded.