64% of firms may no longer trade into NI due to Irish Sea Border

Businesses have reached the precipice and are now having to make a final decision as to whether trading into Northern Ireland is feasible since the creation of the Irish Sea Border post Brexit.

Saturday, 27th February 2021, 6:00 am
Kirsty McManus, of the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland

In a recent survey of 1,000 retail businesses conducted by e-commerce experts, iakoe - 64% of respondents said they were going to have to cease trading into Northern Ireland should a resolution not be found by the end of April 2021. 42% of firms had experienced order cancellations as a result of being forced to increase their prices to Northern Irish customers to cover admin and customs charges.

Rosie Axford, Co-founder of luxury soft furnishings brand, Wicklewood said: “One of our Northern Irish customers had to pay €225 to get her products through the door. We’re struggling to work out not only how to manage this from a tech perspective but also how to communicate it and market it, or not market it as the case may be”.

Helen White, Co-Founder of lighting brand houseof agreed: “Dealing with additional redtape for us is a real challenge at the moment as we’re already experiencing a sixfold increase in the cost of shipping containers from China. To begin adding further complexities to the situation by burdening increased shipping and administrative costs to Northern Ireland may simply not be viable until the Irish Sea Border situation is resolved.”

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While the concerns felt by many businesses about future trade prospects between Great Britain and Northern Ireland were grave, there were some silver linings of hope that the unique position of the country could bear fruit in the long term for both European and British trade. 68% of respondents said they felt “good or very good” about the statement that we had already experienced the worst of getting to grips with the new protocols.

Kirsty McManus, of the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland remarked: ”It is clear that Northern Ireland could have a competitive advantage via our dual access to Great Britain and the EU Single Market but this is being overshadowed by elements of the protocol between GB and NI which is causing friction.”

Managing the challenges ahead requires some optimism and a leap of faith in the measures put in place to date.

Alistair Clifton, UK Chamber Of Shipping, continued: “The new UK Border Operating Model provides a useful guide to what may be possible. The range of systems, flexible declarations points and locations creates new data sets which can be used to analyse how trade is conducted. Granted, this has caused supply chain challenges in the first few weeks of the new system’s implementation. But this is because there was insufficient preparation time allowed for business, not the design itself.”

Jerome Brustlein, COO of Fenton offered: “At Fenton, despite an increase in administrative and cost burdens we’ve remained steadfast in keeping our prices the same, regardless of whether customers are in Northern Ireland or the EU. We are working closely with our shipping partners to keep abreast of the latest developments in order to ensure the price on our website really is the final price for customers. We take care of all taxes and duties to ensure the Fenton customer experiences no friction.”

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