A number of business organisations in Northern Ireland have welcomed British Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal as a welcome step forward. 

A range of business organisations including the CBI, the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and the Institute of Directors issued a joint statement this evening.

They have described the draft withdrawal agreement as a welcome step forward. 

They also said that a 'no deal' Brexit would be deeply damaging and would represent a very bad outcome for businesses, consumers and the economy as a whole. 

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"For business on the island of Ireland the detailed provisions for a backstop in this week’s draft agreement can be viewed as a ‘safety-net’ insurance policy," said the Ibec/CBI NI Joint Business Council.

Commenting on developments, CBI NI Director Angela McGowan said: "Companies across Northern Ireland simply could not cope with a no-deal Brexit. Such a scenario would risk jobs, investment and living standards. 

"This latest agreement between London and Brussels provides local firms the potential for a guaranteed transition period and an assurance that their supply chains will not be disrupted under any future scenario. 

"If ratified, this Withdrawal Agreement should provide a degree of certainty to the business community that Northern Ireland’s economy will ultimately be protected."

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Earlier today, the Ulster Farmers' Union said farmers have "no option but to support the draft withdrawal agreement as it is the best deal on the table" and better than no deal.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, UFU President Ivor Ferguson said that farmers do not want borders in Northern Ireland, as 75% of produce leaves Northern Ireland.

He said that farmers have concerns about quality assurance schemes, but that this document "secures existing trading arrangements" with the UK and that is a good thing.

Mr Ferguson said that a no-deal situation would be disastrous for Northern Ireland farmers.

He said farmers had worked hard to produce high standards in food.

Mr Ferguson said UK trade deals with America that would bring in cheaper products with possibly lower quality standards were not a great prospect for them.