NI leaders hope trade deal will preserve 'unfettered' GB trade as hauliers prepare for changes

Tue 15 Dec 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

irish sea border

Democratic Unionist Party peer Nigel Dodds hopes the ‘extra mile’ taken by negotiators in the UK-EU trade talks will lead to a no-tariff deal which in turn would maintain “unfettered” trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain

“Trade between Northern Ireland to Great Britain will be unfettered, with no extra paperwork. We must ensure that Great Britain to Northern Ireland trade is tariff-free and with the minimum checks,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

The UK and EU agreed to continue talks on Sunday in an attempt to resolve the remaining issues in the negotiations. Boris Johnson said there was still hope for a deal but that the two parties were still “very far apart”.

Changes coming

Goods sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland which are ‘at risk’ of entering the EU could be liable to EU tariffs under a no-deal outcome.

Regardless of a deal, goods sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will require declarations to be completed.

Most goods moving the other way will be unaffected, but declarations will be required in limited circumstances. The government published new guidance about goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain today, which can be viewed here.

The government has also established the Trader Support Service (TSS) to assist firms adjusting to new administrative requirements.


Some larger Northern Ireland hauliers are nonetheless trying to hire customs experts to manage the completion of declarations – something many hauliers are doing on the behalf of traders.

According to Irish News, one company – Aghalee-based Hannon Group – has already recruited a team of 20 customs administrators in preparation for new trading rules from the start of next year.

Preserving business

Marketing manager Owen McLaughlin told the Irish News the company had made the decision to hire in expertise in order to preserve its business.

“We, like most other big hauliers across Northern Ireland, are shooting in the dark here, trying to search for people to do a customs job that died off 40 years ago,” he said.

Command paper

The government published its long-awaited command paper last week, which spelled out how the Northern Ireland Protocol will be implemented.

The IOE&IT Daily Update bulletin reported that the measures are designed “to ensure that the Protocol’s operation in practice takes proper account of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland”.

Job losses

Changes to how Northern Ireland trades with Great Britain come against the backdrop of a record number of proposed redundancies in a calendar year, according to Belfast Telegraph.

In the past 12 months up to the end of November, the collective 10,720 redundancies proposed is more than double that of the previous year.