The head of the government’s technological solution to keeping goods flowing between Great Britain and Northern Ireland has said he is “incredibly proud” of the support the service has provided so far.
The Trader Support Service (TSS) was unveiled last year to ease the administrative burden of traders affected by new rules under the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Businesses sending goods to Northern Ireland from Great Britain are now required to complete customs declarations, while the same is true for a limited number of goods moving in the opposite direction.
Christian Benson from Fujitsu, which leads the consortium behind TSS, told a Stormont assembly meeting – reported by the BBC – of his pride in establishing the digital service, which he says is “gradually improving”.
Benson said TSS had processed 337,000 consignments since January and that 36,000 traders had signed up to the scheme but admitted “there is still work to do”.
The Institute of Export & International Trade is also a part of the TSS consortium.
Resources in place
During the online meeting of the Economy, Infrastructure and Agriculture Committee, DUP MLA William Irwin raised a projection by Northern Ireland’s chief vet that there could be up to 30,000 checks required per day once the grace period on sanitary controls on agrifoods finishes.
Mary Scullion, of Fujitsu, said the TSS had resources to deal with any increase in volume.
“We have seen all sorts of humps every time we do a new release or every time a new process has to be followed,” she said. “But even then, we are still well able to react and quickly respond to the requests that we have”.
Earlier this month, the government unilaterally announced the extension of grace periods for agrifood trade involving supermarkets, as well as for parcel movements.
The date at which Export Health Certificates will become required for all agrifood products was postponed from 1 April to 1 October.
The delay has been legally challenged by the EU who accuse the UK of breaching the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.