Irish ports get to grips with surge of British declarations with new IT systems now bedded in

Tue 11 May 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

irish sea freight

British exports entering Irish ports are moving more smoothly than earlier in the year because traders and customs authorities have adjusted to new rules and technologies, an Irish select committee has heard.

Gerry Harrahill, a commissioner at the Irish Revenue, said the country’s new customs IT systems had been performing well since mid-March.

This follows complaints from hauliers at the beginning of the year that the system was slow and unreliable.

The BBC reports that British exports to Ireland were down by £1.5bn in January and February. Ireland is the UK’s fifth largest export market.

Port pressure

Irish ports have seen a huge increase in the number of checks they have to carry out, particularly for food products.

Hazel Sheridan, head of import controls operations at the Department of Agriculture, said in the first 15 weeks of this year the department had carried out 13,000 checks at Dublin Port and a further 670 had been conducted at Rosslare Port.

In comparison, over the whole of last year it conducted about 3,500 checks at Dublin Port, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

New rules

As the IOE&IT Daily Bulletin reported, freight moving from Great Britain into Ireland was disrupted by the new trade rules and customs checks following the end of the transition period on 31 December.

A combination of businesses being unprepared for the changes and problems with IT systems at the ports led to delays for freight movements.

NI Protocol

Around a fifth of trade coming into Dublin Port moves onwards to Northern Ireland.

Under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the region continues to operate under EU rules for goods trade, leading to declarations being required for goods arriving from Great Britain, which is now outside of the EU single market.

Government support

The UK government last year established the Trader Support Service (TSS) to ease the administrative burden for businesses moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Christian Benson from Fujitsu, which leads the consortium behind the TSS, told a Stormont assembly in March that the service was “gradually improving” and had processed 337,000 consignments since January.

The TSS last month launched a new service for goods moving under Transit procedures from Great Britain to Northern Ireland via Ireland.