There is worrying news today from a recent survey which suggests that around two thirds of retailers based in Great Britain could stop selling their goods to Northern Ireland unless new trading arrangements can be made in the next few weeks.
The EU Sees The UK As A Third Country
Although Northern Ireland has remained in the EU single market, as well as trading as part of the UK market, the problem stems from the fact that the EU sees the UK as a third country. So they see that goods moving from Great Britain into Northern Ireland may be exported on to the EU, therefore a great deal of these goods face customs charges and other export charges and checks, which is hampering the flow of business between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
A Need To Alleviate The Red Tape
So many retailers are calling for changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol which could alleviate the red tape and cut the extra costs that are being heaped upon businesses when trading.
Below are some comments from various retailers on this issue, as quoted on the Internet Retailing website:
Roxie Axford, co-founder of luxury soft furnishings brand Wicklewood, told the survey: “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 house of, said: “Dealing with additional red tape 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”.
Jerome Brustlein, chief operating officer at jeweller Fenton, said: “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.”
Northern Ireland Could Have A Competitive Advantage
Kirsty McManus, national director of the Institute of Directors, Northern Ireland, said: “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.”
Alistair Clifton of the UK Chamber Of Shipping, said: “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.”