Supply Chain

UK Negotiating Mandate Could Present Trade Issues For Northern Ireland, Says NIRC

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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UK Negotiating Mandate Could Present Trade Issues For Northern Ireland, Says NIRC

Northern Ireland could be adversely impacted by the UK's new negotiating position on Brexit, as there is still no clarity on how trade between it and the rest of Great Britain will remain unfettered, according to the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC).

On Thursday, the UK government has outlined a new set of negotiating objectives for the next phase of Brexit, stating that if no trade deal with the EU can be struck by June, it will put in place preparations for a 'no-deal' trade situation.

"We will not be seeking to dynamically align with EU rules on EU terms governed by EU laws and EU institutions," Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said in a statement, adding that all negotiations will be undertaken "without prejudice and with full respect to the Northern Ireland Protocol".

'Continuing Confusion'

In response, however, NIRC director Aodhán Connolly questioned how such a pledge can be delivered, given the lack of detail on the future GB-NI trade relationship.

"There is continuing confusion within the NI business community," he said. "The EU has stated that there will be no derogation from the rules of Union Customs Code and the EU Single market being administered in Northern Ireland, meanwhile the government is saying that there will not be a border down the Irish Sea and there will be unfettered access for NI business to the GB market and vice versa.


"We need clarity immediately to allow us to prepare for the end of the transition period."

Connolly added that there is "some good" in the UK's mandate, such as a proposed EU–New Zealand style veterinary agreement, and a new approach on rules of origin, which could benefit the clothing and textiles industries.

Export Requirements

"But these factors will be dwarfed by the cost of complying with export rules," he said. "The mandate sets out a vision for a trade deal with the EU that provides the maximum of UK asks but with minimal obligations. Whereas Northern Ireland seem to have the maximum of cost and paperwork burden with few benefits under the Northern Ireland protocol.

"Even when pressed, Gove could not give details on how we in the business community and Northern Ireland households can be protected from these trade barriers and costs."

© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.

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