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Brexit: NI industry urges clarity over extra costs

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NIRC Director Aodhan Connolly

NIRC Director Aodhan Connolly

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt

NIRC Director Aodhan Connolly

Business leaders in Northern Ireland have called for greater clarity over the UK Government's Brexit commitments.

Shadow secretary of state Louise Haigh yesterday hosted a roundtable discussion with representatives from a cross-section of business and industry here.

This came after First Minister Arlene Foster conceded she does not like the Northern Ireland Protocol, which will see UK authorities apply EU customs rules to goods entering the region.

Speaking during yesterday's online discussion, Ms Haigh stated that after talking to business groups and communities across Northern Ireland, "urgent operational assessment and preparation" is needed so the protocols can be implemented.

"It remains a real and present danger that Northern Ireland is still being overlooked as we prepare to finally leave the European Union at the end of this year," said the Labour MP.

"We are preparing for probably the worst recession in 300 years. You have faced the perfect storm of potentially negligible demand in some sectors and increased costs in doing trade.

"We need to make sure that we are absolutely limiting those costs and allowing you to continue to do business as seamlessly as possible."

Yesterday's talks included the NI Retail Consortium (NIRC), the Confederation of British Industry, the Freight Transport Association, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU).

Director of the NIRC Aodhan Connolly said: "If retailers are going to be able to give households the same choice and affordability after the transition period in January 2021 then we're going to need technical details on how the proposals in the UK Government Command Paper will work."

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt said: "The UK is our main market so we're very worried about extra costs because farming is running on a knife-edge to make it work.

"We have no ability to absorb those costs. The farmers are at the end of the supply chain.

"Every time extra costs come in it's taken off the bottom line."

Belfast Telegraph