Northern Ireland Retailers Welcome Brexit Position On Irish Borders
The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) has said that it welcomes the UK Government's latest position paper on Ireland after Brexit.
"We welcome the recognition of the importance of Northern Ireland and Ireland issues and their unique situation given by both the UK Government and the EU," said NIRC director Aodhán Connolly.
"We look forward to the development of 'flexible and imaginative solutions' for the border as laid down by the European Council in their negotiating guidelines and broadly agree with the priorities of avoiding a hard border."
"While the October deadline for an agreement on the Common Travel Area is to be welcomed, we need solutions on the movement of goods, health and on tariffs in a similarly expedited manner well in advance of March 2019 to provide certainty for our members and for Northern Ireland consumers."
The NIRC noted that its members purchase over £1.6 billion worth of Northern Ireland's agri-food produce, around a quarter of the total output, a large percentage of which is exported to Great Britain through Ireland.
As a result, any new tariffs that emerge in a post-Brexit deal could lead to higher costs for consumers, both in Northern Ireland and the UK.
"We as the retail industry, which represents over 12% of the Northern Ireland economy, stand ready to support this dialogue," added Connolly.
"We hope that both the UK government and the EU will make use of our experience and expertise in this area not just for our own industry but for the agri-food, construction and service industries whom we support, but most of all, for the hard pressed Northern Ireland consumer."
Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, also said that it welcomes the UK government’s aim to avoid customs checks in Ireland, and develop new arrangements with the EU.
However, the group also warned that the UK’s departure from the EU customs union would present very serious challenges to achieving these aims, and that businesses would end up paying the bill at various points in the supply chain.
“Any new customs border on the island of Ireland, and between Ireland and Britain, presents major economic and logistical challenges and risks imposing significant additional costs on business,” said Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec.
“There is no simple solution that will satisfy the needs of all parties to the negotiations. A detailed, costed impact assessment is needed to weigh up the options available and properly inform the debate.”
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Sarah Harford. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.