Retailers welcome no-barrier Brexit proposals

An organisation representing Northern Irish retail has welcomed UK Government proposals ruling-out a physical border with the Republic after Brexit.

The Position Paper, published on 16 August, outlines a range of options for trade between Ireland and the UK after it leaves the EU.

These include an “untested” new customs arrangement removing the need for the UK and the EU to introduce customs processes, a waiver of goods declarations, and a Common Transit Convention to simplify border crossing for goods in transit.

The paper points out that external sale of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain stands at around £11 billion, 22% of all NI’s sales in goods by value).

It also highlights that Ireland is the North’s biggest external trading partner, to which it exports £2.7 billion of goods.

Welcoming the paper, Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said: “It has to be welcomed that this paper has more detail on the UK Governments negotiation position and that no physical infrastructure on the border, such as customs posts is being considered.

“Retail NI welcomes the proposal to exclude smaller businesses, who trade cross border, from any new post Brexit bureaucracy.

“This is only the very start of serious and detailed negotiations and we will face significant challenges ahead.

“I would hope that the Brexit Minister, David Davis will visit Northern Ireland soon to discuss these proposals in more detail with the local business community.”

Also responding to the paper was Danny McCoy, CEO of Ireland’s biggest business organisation.

Mr McCoy said he welcomed recognition of the many unique problems Brexit presents to Ireland, but added “we’re a very long way from resolving the issues”.

“These are complex problems that require detailed, workable solutions,” he said. “These could well be elusive if the UK continues to stick to its current hard Brexit trajectory.”
Mr McCoy added that any new customs border on the island of Ireland, and between Ireland and Britain, presented “major economic and logistical challenges” risking “significant additional costs” on business.

“A detailed, costed impact assessment is needed to weigh up the options available and properly inform the debate,” he said.
The Position Paper comes within weeks of a major cross-border Summit for Ireland’s convenience retail sector, which will be addressed by a number of major retailing figures, including Ibec CEO Danny McCoy.

Ireland’s Convenience Retailer Summit takes place on 6 September in Dublin’s Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road.

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