‘Significant changes’ coming for Irish trade to GB

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The Irish government has urged exporters to Great Britain to be ready for new post-Brexit border controls which apply from the end of January.

It is part of a long-delayed UK plan to apply more controls and checks on EU imports.

Irish Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue said it meant a “significant change in the trading environment” for Irish agri-food exporters to Great Britain.

The changes do not apply to goods going to Northern Ireland.

Trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland is covered by the Windsor Framework meaning there are no new checks or controls.

Changes from 31 January

When the UK left the EU in 2021 goods from Great Britain were immediately subject to the customs and regulatory processes applied to the imports from any non-member state.

Goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland also faced new controls as Northern Ireland remained inside the EU’s single market for goods.

However, the UK government was not ready to apply controls on EU goods and the introduction of those controls has been delayed on five occasions in the subsequent years.

The changes will finally start to be implemented from 31 January with full customs processes and the pre-notification and official certification of some agri-food products.

This will add a significant administrative burden to the EU to Great Britain’s agri-food exports and Ireland will be particularly affected as the UK remains its single biggest market for food exports.

‘Education not enforcement approach’

Mr McConalogue said: “All businesses in the agri-food supply chain to GB must continue to engage with their UK customers, their local supervisory competent authority team and logistics providers to confirm the processes are in place to meet the new UK requirements most effectively and efficiently.”

It is understood that the Irish government is not anticipating significant problems with the new arrangements as large exporters are well prepared and UK authorities are expected to take an initial approach of ‘education not enforcement.’

It is still unclear when Irish agri-food products will start to be physically inspected at Great Britain ports.

Goods from the rest of the EU will start to face physical checks from April but goods from Ireland will not be subject to checks any earlier than October.

The government is yet to clarify how it will discriminate between Irish and Northern Irish goods arriving from Northern Ireland ports without imposing any new bureaucracy on Northern Ireland businesses.

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