NI protocol: Devil in the detail for customs proposals say trade organisations

The promise of a reduction in customs formalities has been cautiously welcomed, but fears remain that the devil could be in the detail.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 5:42 pm
NI Chamber’s Paul Murnaghan

EC vice president Maris Sefkovic proposed the expansion of the scope of the existing scheme on ‘goods not at risk’ of entering the EU’s Single Market to a wider group of businesses and products.

“We also propose to cut in half the customs formalities and processes that are required today for these goods,” he said.

Northern Ireland policy manager with Logistics UK, Seamus Leheny, said that both the UK Government’s command paper and the recent EU proposals contain “promising elements” in response to the concerns raised by his organisation.

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He said: “The proposed solutions concerning the level of required data and checks associated with SPS and customs procedures are welcome and could reduce administration, costs and time associated with moving goods, especially food products, parcels, medicines and mixed load consignments from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

“However, as always, the devil is in the detail, and Logistics UK is awaiting both the technical and legal texts before passing final judgement.”

Paul Murnaghan, president of NI Chamber, elaborated on how companies could still get caught up in red tape: “The ‘Express lane’, which facilitates the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, will see customs-related red tape cut by half – but only for those firms linked to retail and who have trusted trader status. Many businesses, especially SMEs, do not have trusted trader status and it is not only the retail sector that experiences the groupage issue - there are many parts going into production that need the barriers removed as well.”

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