Half of businesses in Northern Ireland believe the Northern Ireland Protocol is supporting growth but a third say it creates difficulties for them, according to an industry survey.

The findings were produced by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

54% of its members believe the protocol is helping them increase sales, compared to 29% who see no benefit.

The DUP is currently citing opposition to the protocol as the reason it won't support the return of power-sharing at Stormont.

While most firms find selling to Britain and the EU straightforward, a third of those surveyed had difficulties bringing goods in from Britain.

Many business leaders believe their views are being overlooked when it comes to trade deals and new trading arrangements.

The priority for most was smoother customs procedures.

Two-fifths of companies wanted more flexible approaches to labour mobility.

The most important markets for Northern Ireland firms are Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

The rest of the EU is also key with seven out of ten firms selling there. The United States is another big customer.

NI Chamber Chief Executive Ann McGregor said Northern Ireland businesses were export-orientated but needed smoother processes.

"On the Northern Ireland Protocol, it is no surprise that the view of the majority of the respondents is that the protocol is a vehicle for growth, while there are real issues to be resolved for a significant minority of firms.

"But we have known what these issues are for some time. Agreed solutions must be delivered at pace," she said.

109 companies responded to the survey ranging from micro businesses to those with more than 250 employees.