UK and Irish companies are expecting strong results from their international trade activities in 2016, according to a new report.
New research by professional services firm Grant Thornton has revealed that businesses in the UK and Ireland are showing the highest level of optimism of any in the EU as 2016 begins, despite the uncertainty surrounding the forthcoming referendum on Britain's continued EU membership.
The net percentage of businesses expressing optimism about the current economic outlook stands at 88 per cent in Ireland and 73 per cent in the UK, with British companies highlighting large increases in their expectations for exports and profitability in the 12 months to come.
This is in contrast to the levels of optimism seen elsewhere in the EU, with 38 per cent of European businesses saying they are optimistic, while on a global basis business optimism is at 36 per cent.
Reflecting this optimism, it is expected that investment in research and development will rise among UK and Irish companies this year.
However, in the US, optimism levels fell from 74 per cent to 50 per cent during the fourth quarter of the year, marking the largest drop in positivity of any of the 36 countries surveyed by Grant Thornton. According to the organisation, this shows that US companies could be facing some key challenges in the global market over the next year.
Ed Nusbaum, global chief executive at Grant Thornton, said: "In 2016, US exporters will need to compete hard to win contracts for their goods and services in overseas markets. The flipside of the strong dollar is that it will increase the appetite of the US consumer for cheaper imports."