As a border town and as a cross border worker you soon become aware of pricing differences in all types of products and services, from grocery prices, to electricity charges.
For many months we and other border Chambers lobbied and highlighted the large price differentials particularly in the grocery market that were nothing to do with the cost of doing business.
The independent traders were able to react more quickly and |adjusted prices to suit the exchange rate and the market and pushed their suppliers to offer more keenly priced products.
The reduction in grocery prices will discourage some of the cross border shopping traffic and we are seeing some evidence of consumers going back to local shopping. Once they are convinced to grocery shop locally they can be more easily persuaded to do the majority of their shopping locally. We hope the prices, as promised, are permanent reductions so that once the summer is over the business community can work together to capture its share of the local market in what for many should be the busier trading period of the year.
So while prices for consumer goods are reducing and services are more keenly priced mobile roaming charges and tariffs are still a cause for concern for those operating on the border.
For anyone not close to the border roaming only becomes an issue when they travel abroad however for anyone living in close proximity to the border or for someone who lives in one jurisdiction and works in the other roaming charges and mobile networks are a regular topic of conversation.
Over the last two years there has been much talk of reducing and even abolishing roaming charges and each summer we hear of new tariffs and bolt-ons that will make a difference.
However we can see no desire on the part of the network operators to introduce more affordable charges and ones that are more easily understood. Individuals and businesses remain confused about roaming charges, close to the border everyone needs to check the hand set before receiving or making a call and in all it is costly and confusing. So an issue that for most is just occasional when they travel for many on the border it is a daily hindrance.
This might seem to many as a small and insignificant issue but while we are all working to improve cross border co-operation and encouraging businesses to do business with their near neighbour a move towards radically reducing or better still abolishing roaming charges would be a step in the right direction.
For more information on Chamber activities contact Toni Forrester, CEO on 074 9125505, firstname.lastname@example.org or 0872130495.