Northern Irish firms tell Institute of Export: our top priority is a UK trade deal with the EU

Mon 22 Jun 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
IOE News

trade agreement papers

Firms based in Northern Ireland, faced with checks on goods moving between Great Britain and the province, have told the IOE&IT their chief concern is a no-deal scenario when the UK ends its transition from the EU in December.

The IOE&IT quizzed NI firms that formed the exclusive audience attending its ‘Trade post-Brexit for Northern Ireland businesses’ masterclass, held on 17 June on behalf of trade group Invest NI.

Asked to choose one key concern as the UK approaches the end of transition from a suggested list, the Northern Irish firms voted as follows:

  • The UK leaving transition with no trade deal: 50.85%
  • Lack of detail and time to prepare for NI-GB changes: 28.81%
  • Potential additional customs admin cost post-transition: 15.25%
  • Lack of existing NI customs infrastructure: 5.08%

Masterclass host and IOE&IT director Kevin Shakespeare reminded attendees that regardless of the outcome of EU-UK negotiations, firms in Northern Ireland must prepare now for customs declarations and documentation.

After transition, Northern Ireland will be alone in the UK in having to follow EU rules on agriculture and manufactured goods – an arrangement that formed part of the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.

A recording of the IOE&IT masterclass will be available to view soon.

Reimbursing tariffs

The IOE&IT poll findings come as it emerged the government is aware of NI business concerns around potential tariffs.

It has pledged to compensate firms in Northern Ireland if they are faced with tariffs in the event of the UK failing to agree a free trade deal with the EU.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove made the commitment in a Northern Ireland affairs select committee session in parliament on Thursday 18 June.

As reported by the Guardian, Gove said the government wants “to make sure that in the event of there not being a free trade agreement … with the EU, that we are in a position to indemnify and reimburse companies for tariffs”.

NI Protocol webinars

The IOE&IT has redoubled its efforts to lift some of the uncertainty over administration around moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

This week, the IOE&IT hosts the second of three webinars on the Northern Irish Protocol.

Held under the UK Customs Academy banner, ‘Customs 101: How will the Northern Irish Protocol work for UK businesses’ is on Friday 26 June and is free attend when you register here.

Then on 30 June, the IOE&IT hosts a masterclass webinar on Northern Ireland Trade Post-Brexit'. It is free to IOE&IT members while non-members pay just £100+VAT, which is refundable from the government grant.