The government has confirmed that steps taken by Rishi Sunak to revise the new Brexit trading arrangement in Northern Ireland protocol could take more than two years to fully implement.
If the deal announced in Windsor last Monday is formalized by parliament, businesses in Northern Ireland say they anticipate a nationwide educational campaign to be launched by HMRC and other government agencies to assist them in putting it into effect.
The first few measures could take months to become operational with legislation requiring to bring the Windsor framework into force.
If the new deal were to be formalized, it would be “intentionally giving the industry time to prepare. Essentially, it is a phased introduction over this year and in 2024,” as per a government source.
Nevertheless, the implementation of revised labeling for goods traveling across the Irish Sea via the new customs “green lane” would be phased, with the final stage not taking effect until as late as July 2025.
Businesses are still trying to understand what the deal means for them. “It is important to emphasize this is a framework, but there’s a lot of operational detail to work through,” said the head of public affairs at the Northern Ireland chamber of commerce, Stuart Anderson.
“There is also quite significant political, practical, and legal work to get through as part of the process. For example, the timeline for labeling is until July 2025, underscoring that this is very much a process over time.“
The most notable change resulting from Brexit in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would be labeling products as “not for the EU.”
Under the new arrangement, fresh meats, like sausages, and other dairy products will start to be labeled for sale in Ireland this October. A swift reimbursement has been promised by the government to cover the cost of the goods.
All other dairy products, including UHT milk and butter, will need to be labelled beginning in October of next year throughout the UK. The final phase of labelling will take effect in July 2025 and apply to composite items including ready meals as well as fish, fruit, and vegetables.
The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturing NI both express their confidence in the ability of businesses to cooperate with the government to implement the new regulations.
“As businesses, we had to shout from the sidelines in the past; sometimes we had to kick down the doors to get heard, but now we know we are going to be invited into the room,” as per the chief executive of Manufacturing NI, Stephen Kelly, one of the delegates from a business who met Sunak last week.
After the UK-EU joint committee, a body created to enforce the original exit agreement, meets later this month, the procedure to put the deal into effect will begin.
For some aspects of the agreement, such as the application of UK VAT regulations and alcohol tariffs in Northern Ireland, legislation may be required, but sources claim that it may be passed quickly.
Kelly addressed some of the “low-hanging fruit” by early summer when programs like the tariff reimbursement plans might be operational.
For companies that bring materials in through the red lane and pay EU duty on a component but are unsure of the final destination of their product, there is a payback plan. They may be able to recoup the tariff if the product is ultimately sold and stays in Northern Ireland.
“We expect HMRC will have to implement changes to some systems and launch a campaign to educate traders, but there are relatively simple things they could get started on within the early summer.”
Farmers will also be hoping for a speedy implementation of the Windsor clauses, which lift import restrictions on seed potatoes and 11 native British trees from the United Kingdom. They also hope for a loosening of regulations on used agricultural equipment.
Due to the limitations, the Woodland Trust was compelled to abandon its plan to buy 22,000 trees for Northern Ireland’s communities and schools a few months after the protocol was implemented in 2021.
- Published By Team Timeswire