Belfast Telegraph

Frictionless border desire of businesses across island of Ireland: CBI

By John Mulgrew

There is "full agreement" on both sides of the border over the challenges facing businesses - including having a "frictionless" cross-border trade, one leading business leader has said.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director general, was speaking after a meeting with Ibec to discuss issues for cross-border trade. In addition, to avoid a damaging 'cliff edge' scenario, the groups agreed that any EU-UK trade deal must include comprehensive transitional arrangements and allow business plenty of time to prepare and adapt to a new trading relationship.

"The CBI will play a vital role in taking the concerns of Northern Irish businesses affected by Brexit to all levels of government in London and Brussels," she said.

"With Northern Irish exports to the Republic of Ireland valued at £2.4bn in 2016, it is vitally important we reach a sensible agreement on the border issue which allows firms on both sides of the border to flourish.

"Meeting with representatives of Ibec it is clear there is full agreement from both sides of the border on the challenges a mismanaged Brexit would pose to businesses both north and south.

"There is a real desire to work together to find solutions that will promote a frictionless cross border trading system that allows businesses to avoid potential tariff and non-tariff barriers - this will be crucial for supporting jobs and future prosperity."

She added: "However, any potential solution requires political stability. We therefore once again call on all political parties in Northern Ireland to act in the best interests of the province by restoring power-sharing institutions by the end of June."

And Danny McCoy, chief executive of Ibec, said that any deal between the EU and UK "must recognise the unique economic and political challenge for Ireland and include a range of specific measures to address these".

"An early focus on avoiding a hard border with Northern Ireland is vital, but the Irish approach must also be informed by the greater economic importance of the east-west Irish-British trading relationship," he said.

"Across both trade and investments, the outcome of negotiations must not disadvantage Ireland.

"Any future EU-UK deal must facilitate the closest possible, tariff-free economic, trading and business relationship between the EU and UK into the future and should be as broad, comprehensive and as ambitious as possible, covering both goods and services."

Meanwhile, yesterday, the Irish Government declared it is demanding 'special status' for Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Dublin's Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has dismissed "language coming from London" in recent days that technology alone, with cameras and online permits, could bypass the need for border posts on the island of Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph