The UK government has begun publishing detailed advice for trade between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and N Ireland, as required under the EU Withdrawal Agreement.
The key issue is that N Ireland is still part of the EU Single Market and Customs Union, whilst Great Britain has left.
This means that Great Britain – N Ireland trade now has its own rules and paperwork.
NORTHERN IRELAND BREXIT LINKS
N Ireland has emerged as one of the main ‘problem areas’ in the early days of Brexit. Everyone understood that the UK and EU needed to avoid a ‘hard border’ between North and South in Ireland, in order to maintain the Good Friday Agreement. But unfortunately, politics intervened during the negotiations, when Boris Johnson and the DUP led a revolt against Theresa May’s “backstop proposal“.
This led to her defeat as Prime Minister. When Boris Johnson took over, he was therefore left with only one alternative to a ‘hard border’ on the island of Ireland – namely a border between Great Britain and N Ireland down the middle of the Irish Sea. Inevitably, this is turning out to be amazingly complex to operate,
Under the N Ireland Protocol, N Ireland remains in the EU Single Market for goods and applies EU Customs rules at its border. The key impact at the moment is coming from the new Sanitary/Phytosanitary rules. Some time-limited waivers were initially granted to allow business to adapt. But these waivers have already started to expire. And the situation is likely to become more complex as the UK government starts to impose its own Border controls.
Traders can therefore no longer simply move goods between GB- N Ireland in the same way as goods move from England to Wales or Scotland. This means that the amount of form-filling will increase, along with costs. We detail below some of the key areas you need to understand, together with some of the background history, so that you can appreciate the context of the new rules.
VAT for businesses trading with or in Northern Ireland
N Ireland businesses trading with Ireland are recognised by HMG as facing “very significant challenges” in the event of no-deal, because of the “unique and highly sensitive context”. HMG recommends that “if you trade across the land border, you should consider whether you will need advice from the Irish government about preparations you need to make”.
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