Belfast Telegraph

Business 'aghast' over UK's Brexit wrangling, says trade body chief

By Colm Kelpie

Business is looking "aghast" at the political wrangling in the UK over Brexit, the head of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce has warned.

The lobby group has proposed that a new customs arrangement between the UK and EU should be formed that would allow for continued trade in goods, including agricultural produce.

The proposal would involve regulatory alignment between the UK and EU, and an aligned common external tariff.

"We think both coupled together would give the best solution to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland," said Katie Daughen, head of Brexit research and support services at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.

"In our research it was said to us that it's not just customs that dictate the need for a border. Most border checks are for actual regulatory compliance and standards checks.

"Without this regulatory alignment being maintained, there is a severe chance that no matter what relationship we have with the UK post-Brexit, there will be a need for a border on the island."

The Chamber said the customs arrangement must also be coupled with a comprehensive deal on services. It said the deal sought under its proposal is more comprehensive than that of the EU's current customs deal with Turkey, which only covers certain goods and agricultural measures.

It is also proposed that - unlike Turkey - the UK should be included in and allowed to benefit from future trade deals that are agreed by the EU. "While the UK would be relinquishing its right to pursue its own trade deals after Brexit, what it would get is the ability to input into EU negotiated trade deals and automatic access to those markets on the same terms as those agreed by the EU," Ms Daughen added.

She also said the UK should have access to an international dispute resolution model other than the European Court of Justice. The Chamber said its proposal would eliminate the need for a border on the island, and address concerns about border and customs checks at UK ports.

John McGrane, director general of the Chamber, said the UK must reconcile competing priorities.

He said the proposal would allow for UK control of immigration, while aligning trade deals with the EU.

Belfast Telegraph

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