All eyes on the backstop and the proxy Dublin representatives it would generate

Letters to editor
Letters to editor

As Arlene Foster attends Brussels may I present some interesting statements from Irish Revenue to the Joint Committee on Finance in Dail Eireann on the 25th May 2017 she may find useful.

It certainly seems to me that the backstop is political as there does not seem to be any technical reason preventing an entirely open NI-ROI land border which keep the territorial integrity of the UK.

Let the EU jointly monitor and gather data at NI / UK ports all they like so they can be sure of protecting their single market. But equally the UK including Northern Ireland should outside the Customs Union & any alignment in NI subjct to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Irish Revenue Commissioner Niall Cody told the meeting that “In 2016, 6% of import declarations were checked and less than 2% were physically checked. The vast majority of these checks were carried out in approved warehouses and other premises with a very small number at a port or airport.

“The low level of import checks is the result of pre-authorisation of traders, advance lodgement of declarations and an extensive system of post-clearance checks, including customs audit, which are carried out at traders’ premises. Authorised economic operators, AEOs, have a special status in the system and under agreed protocols are allowed to operate greatly simplified customs procedures. There are currently 133 AEOs, which account for 82% of all imports and 89% of exports.

“It will be very important that the bulk of trade continues to be through AEOs after Brexit... the way the customs code works is that it provides for simplified procedures, authorised economic operators and the checking is done for goods at the destination point. It is not brought somewhere to have the check carried out.

“When we talk about approved warehouses, we are talking about logistics operations that support the transport of the goods. The goods go to their destination and we can facilitate that if it is an approved warehouse.”

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty queried if custom checks would apply to a fruit and vegetable company in Derry that is selling to the Republic.

Commissioner Cody replied:

“It is unlikely that goods of that type would be selected for physical examination, particularly if the destination was an approved operator. That is why we want to facilitate smaller entities in getting authorised status....There are 13 main routes across the Border...we concluded that the diversion and impact of having to call to a designated Revenue customs post does not make sense and the volumes would not justify it...

“We do not envisage physical checks taking place at Revenue offices...From a customs point of view, it is very unlikely that there will be anything approaching 2% referral for physical goods in regard to the type of goods that move between the North and the South. We have considered the analysis of the figures.

“Much of what is transported in both directions is construction material. There is also agri-food produce. Something that will distort the EU market will not be sourced from Northern Ireland into the South.”

All eyes on the backstop & the proxy Dublin representatives it would generate.

Alan Day, Coagh