Earlier this year we wrote on Challenges UK Haulage Companies Face With A Post-Brexit Border. In the piece, we asked “Where do the UK haulage companies go from here? No doubt each business will have an approach to prepare, support and help make adjustments to change.” In June, the news has switched to Northern Ireland specifically and further challenges raised with the Northern Ireland Protocol. This is something we missed as a challenge in our earlier article.
What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?
Something that has a US president concerned in relation to the Good Friday Agreement.
During Brexit negotiations, all sides agreed that protecting the Northern Ireland peace deal was a priority with a key issue of the need for an open border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Under the protocol, both sides agreed that, even though Northern Ireland was no longer part of the EU, it would continue to follow many of its rules. Enabling hauliers to continue driving across the land border without being inspected.
However, England, Scotland and Wales are no longer following these rules; this has meant a new “regulatory” border between the rest of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Bringing new checks on goods to be carried out when they enter Northern Ireland Great Britain. Inspections take place at Northern Ireland ports with customs documents having to be filled in.
There was the single market and the customs union. As part of the EU, the UK would club together and agree to apply the same tariffs to goods from outside the union. Once the goods had cleared customs in one EU country, they could be shipped to others in the EU without further tariffs being imposed.
Now the UK has left the EU our exporters have to contend with what are known as ‘rules of origin’. These rules are designed to demonstrate that goods that legally originated in the UK and that they did not contain more than the permitted level of parts and components from other sources to qualify for duty-free entry into the EU.
UK government on Northern Ireland
Earlier this year, in January, the UK and the EU agreed a “grace” period to allow companies to set up alternative supply chains and the grace runs out at the end of this month. Some checks are taking place on British goods going to Northern Ireland, causing some disruption to food supplies and online deliveries. The UK government decided back in March to extend the grace period but decided to do this unilaterally without discussion with the EU.
EU on Northern Ireland
The EU has stated the UK’s decision to extend the grace period breaks international law because it wasn’t consulted. It has launched legal action which could end up with the European Court of Justice.
EU food safety rules don’t allow chilled meat products to enter its market from non-members, such as the UK. This has led to the prospect of British sausages being banned from Northern Ireland.
These rules are separate from the supermarket grace period.
With another grace period expiring there are a further layer of controls on EU and UK trade. Products of animal origin will have to enter through designated border control posts and physical inspections of goods need to take place. Customs controls will also be tightened up as the government ends the facility to delay the lodging of UK customs import declarations.
Importation of food products are the biggest issues with imports of products of animal origin such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy will need to be pre-notified to the UK authorities, which involves making a declaration on an IT system. All these products will also require an export health certificate (EHCs) which adds time consuming administration and needs to be completed by a vet or an alternative qualified person. EHCs have been one of the biggest issues on post-Brexit trade with even the smallest of errors leading to delayed shipments.
Pre-notification and health certification will also be required for products from Ireland which are simply passing through Great Britain on their way to France or another EU destination. Some products, such as chilled mincemeat and fresh sausages, will be completely banned from entering Great Britain from the EU. EU-registered fishing boats landing their catch in the UK will have to do so at designated ports with pre-notification at least four hours in advance for fresh fish.
It all adds up to a major new layer of bureaucracy, complexity and expense for getting food products from the EU to Great Britain. It is certainly not the ideal situation for the UK’s haulage companies.
What is Logistics UK (formerly the Freight Transport Association) campaigning for as the main issues on this: “Northern Ireland and Great Britain: Trade between NI and GB must be as frictionless as possible (in both directions).”
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