NI traders ‘disadvantaged’ by lack of protocol awareness in GB

A lack of awareness about the NI Protocol among business owners in Great Britain is placing their counterparts in Northern Ireland at a disadvantage, a new report claims.

By Mark Rainey
Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 7:21 pm
NI Chamber chief executive Ann McGregor and Steve Harper, executive director, international business, Invest NI. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
NI Chamber chief executive Ann McGregor and Steve Harper, executive director, international business, Invest NI. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye

As well as highlighting the need for more education in GB to help alleviate some of the difficulties, the report’s findings suggest that post-Brexit cost pressures are being felt more acutely in NI, potentially placing local traders at a “competitive disadvantage’.

According to the international trade report – ‘Brexit One Year On’ – published on Tuesday by the NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Invest Northern Ireland, nine in ten of the region’s firms have experienced supply chain issues, including rising shipping costs (77%), delivery delays (77%) and problems with product availability (72%).

Two in three have reported experiencing an increase in paperwork (65%), while two in five have experienced HGV driver shortages.

Northern Ireland businesses have also reported higher shipping container costs compared to other UK based traders.

NI Chamber chief executive Ann McGregor said: “Issues with additional red-tape must be resolved and NI Chamber continues to work closely with the NI Executive, UK and EU negotiators on this issue.

“Northern Ireland is not alone in facing trade disruption from the new trading arrangements. Many UK businesses are facing similar constraints, particularly in terms of transport delays. However, the findings suggest that the cost pressures that have been placed on local businesses are more acute, which potentially places them at a competitive disadvantage.”

Ms McGregor added: “There is a lack of awareness from UK businesses about the Protocol. This highlights the need for education of GB businesses to support how they trade with their Northern Ireland counterparts. There is also a general need to raise awareness and engage much more proactively with businesses in Northern Ireland around all aspects of world trade agreements.

“Despite the significant challenges, this report is further illustration of the potentially huge benefits of dual-market access. Northern Ireland companies have much more concrete plans to grow both domestically and internationally, compared to the UK average”.

Steve Harper of Invest NI said: “It is encouraging to see that knowledge of the many issues of EU Exit is higher within the Northern Ireland business community than in the rest of the UK. Many businesses have already demonstrated that they can adapt and have successfully won new business globally and many have shortened supply chains to ease the pressures.”

He added: “We want to continue to help NI exporters to grow globally.

“I would encourage those already exporting and potential exporters to engage with Invest NI so we can provide the support needed to overcome the challenges and ensure we are well positioned to seize the opportunities ahead to drive growth and prosperity in Northern Ireland.”

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