Business confidence in the North West picked up in the first quarter of the year compared with the previous three months, according to new research.
The ICAEW Business Confidence Monitor moved marginally into positive territory this quarter, largely thanks to a rise in exports.
Overseas trade growth picked up from zero to 2.2 per cent in Q1 as firms took advantage of the depreciation in the pound.
Domestic sales growth, meanwhile, was largely unchanged from a year earlier at 4.7 per cent.
Input price inflation increased by two per cent. Businesses expect to pass on some of these costs to customers, with a 1.7 per cent increase forecast in selling prices.
Melanie Christie, ICAEW director for the North West, said: "It's encouraging to see that business confidence in the North West has improved following a difficult 2016.
"Inflation continues to rise and commodity prices are increasing more rapidly than before, so we expect input prices to continue growing across the region. Businesses are likely to pass some of these increases on to their customers, which means that 2017 is likely to be a year of counting the pounds and pennies for consumers in the North West.
"On a more positive note, export sales expectations remain robust, possibly due to the post-Brexit world proving better than some worst-case scenarios predicted. There are new opportunities to export in the region as businesses can make the most of the fall in sterling. In order for businesses in the region to start building confidence, Government should focus on negotiating the most inclusive Brexit deal for business of all shapes and sizes across the UK."