STOP PRESS: Government publishes paper on Northern Ireland trade post-2020 – three key take-outs

Thu 10 Dec 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The UK government this evening published its long-awaited Command Paper on the Northern Ireland Protocol, setting out how it will implement the protocol, with its implications for trade between Great Britain and NI from 2021 onwards.

The measures are designed ‘to ensure that the Protocol’s operation in practice takes proper account of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland’, according to the paper. NI will be in two

Here are three key points from the paper, with more coverage in tomorrow’s Daily Update bulletin:

1. Export declarations

The government has ‘removed the requirement for export declarations for Northern Ireland traders moving their goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain,’ the paper states.

However, export declarations will be due in ‘14 areas underpinned by specific international obligations. These concern only very limited categories of trade - such as those involving endangered species - and will have negligible implications for trade as a whole’.

2. 'At risk'

Goods ‘at risk’ of passing from NI into the Republic of Ireland (EU): A new UK Trader Scheme will allow authorised businesses to undertake that the goods they are moving into Northern Ireland are “not at risk” of onward movement to the EU, and therefore not liable to EU tariffs.

Only approved firms in NI can join the scheme: the paper specifies the arrangement will not be ‘available to those with serious criminal records or existing compliance issues’.

The scheme is also open to firms that ‘meet certain closely linked criteria’ to being a business established in NI. 

The focus will be on goods being sold to, or provided for final use by, end consumers located in NI or, for internal UK trade, elsewhere in the UK.

3. Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods

The UK government will absorb the cost of Export Health Certificates for food products moving from GB to NI.

A new Movement Assistance Scheme (MAS), which will be ‘in place by the end of the year,’ will take care of 'reasonable costs' for SPS goods.

In a statement to parliament yesterday (Wednesday 9 December), cabinet minister Michael Gove said Northern Ireland’s supermarkets and convenience stores would be given a grace period, whereby they would not be subjected to health checks on chilled meats coming from GB for six months.

All other food supplies would benefit from a three-month grace period ‘to keep goods flowing between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in January and provide some necessary additional flexibilities,’ Gove told MPs.

Full guidance on the specific arrangements of the MAS scheme will follow.