Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland Director, said:
“It is a step forward to have fresh proposals on the table, yet Northern Ireland businesses are clear they represent a basis for further discussions, not the final destination.
“Flexibility is needed on both sides to reach a deal that protects the economy across all UK nations and regions, can pass Parliament and is acceptable to the EU.
“While the creation of a regulatory zone is welcome, for reasons we all understand frictionless trade on the island of Ireland must mean just that, with no possibility of a hard border. No firm wants to face friction on two fronts.
“Reviewing trading arrangements every four years will make an already tough environment for investors even more difficult.
“With time ticking away and no deal nudging ever closer talks between the UK and EU need to produce clarity – and fast.
“No deal will damage Northern Ireland businesses, communities and the economy, so urgent answers are needed on everything from the all-island electricity market to measures needed to combat smuggling.
“The vast majority of firms want to leave the EU with a deal – and progress is needed now.”