A persistent negative focus on the Northern Ireland Protocol could result in the region missing out on significant production opportunities, according to a body that represents 25,000 accountants across the island of Ireland.

Chartered Accounts Ireland argues that the Protocol offers a major strategic advantage for businesses that locate in Northern Ireland.

Launching a new guide to Foreign Direct Investment in Northern Ireland, CAI said it had received 'significant positive feedback' from businesses regarding the unique market access into both Great Britain and the EU that they now enjoy.

The Northern Ireland protocol - introduced as part of Brexit negotiations - essentially keeps Northern Ireland in the EU's customs union and adhering to many of the single market rules.

However, it creates a regulatory border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, an arrangement that has caused considerable disquiet among some communities in Northern Ireland.

CAI warned that the focus of the discourse relating to the Protocol on the consumption economy risked missing out on the production opportunities that it can afford Northern Ireland's economy.

"Post-Brexit, trade in goods has continued largely as it did before the UK's departure from the EU with no customs duties or customs paperwork on the sale of goods to both Great Britain and the EU - including Ireland - from Northern Ireland," Cróna Clohisey, Public Policy Lead with Chartered Accountants Ireland said.

"This unique market access, in addition to a skilled workforce and business friendly environment makes Northern Ireland an attractive base for companies, particularly in the manufacturing and distribution sectors, that want to trade in both the UK and EU markets," she said.

Ms Clohessy pointed to the fact that the region had established itself in some of the world’s fastest growing and innovative industries including data analytics, cyber security, life and health sciences, clean energy, and aerospace.

She also referenced the strength of foreign direct investment in Northern Ireland with more than 1,100 international companies employing 100,000 people across the region.

The region also stands to benefit from the massive investment under the City & Growth Deals which will see over £1 billion invested in Northern Ireland over the coming decade.