While far from perfect, the government’s Brexit white paper is a step forward and does represent a more realistic basis for the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
In our meetings with British and Irish government ministers and with Michel Barnier a few months ago, we made it clear that any Brexit solution must ensure no border in Ireland or between these islands in the interest of our economy and the hundreds of thousands of people across Northern Ireland who work in our businesses.
Trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK must remain unfettered regardless of the Brexit agreement outcome.
This white paper includes all of those commitments, promising frictionless trade, avoiding customs and regulatory border checks, through a facilitated customs arrangement.
We welcome the commitment to a free trade area for goods which we hope will protect the integrated supply chain which is important for the retail sector.
While this white paper is progress, we have still a very long way to go in the negotiations.
This may require further changes to give stronger protection to its commitments.
I hope the new Brexit Secretary will be visiting Northern Ireland soon to engage with the local business community on this paper.
Glyn Roberts, Retail NI chief executive