Supermarkets in Northern Ireland call for urgent action to avoid trade disruption

Major supermarkets in Northern Ireland have called for urgent action to avoid trade disruptions under the Brexit protocol.

Six of the UK’s leading retailers, accounting for over 75% of the region’s food market, wrote to Brexit Minister Lord Frost and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, calling for urgent action on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Brexit deal, aims to avoid a hard border with Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single goods market.

It will see a series of additional checks on goods arriving in the region from Britain later this year.

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Maros Sefcovic (Niklas Halle’n / European Commission / AP)

They added that increased controls, additional red tape and the need for export health certificates for animal products could force many retailers to move supply chains from Britain to the EU.

They welcomed the extensions to the grace periods, but said that “much more needs to be done before the end of September if there is no significant disruption in supply and increased costs for consumers. North Ireland”.

The letter urged the UK and EU governments to start talks with UK retailers, visit their supply chains and distribution centers, and hold joint talks between government technical officials and supply chain experts. detail to find a working solution.

He warned that “without a swift, decisive and cooperative movement on this issue there would be disruption,” and called on Lord Frost and Mr. Sefcovic to “help us minimize this disruption and allow us to continue providing the people of Northern Ireland with choice and affordability ”.

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Lord Frost (House of Commons / PA)

“The end of NI’s grace period is looming in the minds of all UK retailers with supply chains in Northern Ireland,” she said.

“If no action is taken, it will be the people of Northern Ireland, with half of UK household discretionary income, who will bear the brunt of this deadlock – meaning less choice and higher costs for citizens. purchases of essential foodstuffs.

“Already new red tape is causing delays, additional costs are rising and we are seeing challenges for ‘just in time’ supply chains.

“We need to see real ambition on both sides to deliver a compromise that benefits those most affected: the people of Northern Ireland.

“Our members have made significant investments over the past few months to avoid disruption, but disruption will become inevitable if the regime that comes into effect in October is unrealistic and disproportionate.

“Retailers have shown their compliance; the government and the EU must now help us by removing barriers to GB-NI supply chains.

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