The British Irish Chamber of Commerce has said it is "extremely concerned" at the outcome of last night’s European Council meeting in Brussels on Brexit.
It comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed she is ready to consider a delay of “a matter of months” in Britain’s final departure from the EU in order to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
However, she said she does not expect any extension of the so-called “transition” to Brexit to be needed, because she still hopes to conclude a deal on the UK’s future trade and security relationship with the EU by its scheduled end-date of December 2020.
Speaking after last night's meeting Director General of the British Irish Chamber, John McGrane, said: “We are extremely concerned that the expected progress in negotiations has not been achieved last night.
"Businesses have long warned of the dangers of a “no-deal” Brexit and of the importance of delivering a transition period to provide adequate time for them to prepare for any new arrangements.
“Concern is growing that we are now heading towards a “no deal” outcome.
“While we welcome indications that a longer transition period may be on the table, the clear matter of focus now is that a Withdrawal Agreement is secured. "
Mr McGrane urged negotiators to work quickly over the coming weeks to conclude a deal.
He said: "This would help secure a Withdrawal Agreement and the transition period that is so vital to businesses across Ireland, the UK and the EU.
“The British Irish Chamber stands ready to deliver support in any way that it can to this process.”