FSB NI Policy Chair, Tina McKenzie, has cautiously welcomed publication of ‘the UK’s Approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol’.
Commenting, Tina McKenzie said:
“While responding to the economic challenges of the coronavirus remains the priority for small businesses at present, the next deadline in the Brexit process looms large, with the implications of the Northern Ireland Protocol coming into effect in less than eight months’ time.
“The paper produced by the UK government today is a positive step forward in that process and we cautiously welcome its contents, while noting that more detail is yet to come and that it will be subject to further negotiation.
“The commitment to ‘unfettered access’ for goods travelling between NI and GB, with no new administrative processes or costs, will go some way to alleviating the fears raised by our members, and it is vital that this is delivered upon.
“For goods moving in the other direction, from GB to NI, it is crucial that this process is as smooth as possible and does not lead to NI businesses being excluded from wider UK supply chains because of undue complexity, nor to a sense of Northern Ireland being somewhere with which GB suppliers have reservations about doing business due to perceived complexity.
“We also understand that the Government has committed to NI businesses having full access to future UK Free Trade Agreements, and this will bring opportunity to export-focused small businesses.
“Ensuring that these proposals deliver for the Northern Ireland economy will require a spirit of generosity in the weeks ahead, as well as intensive engagement with the local business community.”