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UK plans zero tariffs on EU goods entering Northern Ireland - but will impose duty if they are moving to GB

Anti Brexit billboards on the northern side of the border between Newry in Northern Ireland and Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland
Anti Brexit billboards on the northern side of the border between Newry in Northern Ireland and Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland

The UK Government will not introduce any new checks or controls on goods moving across the land border into Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, it has been announced.

Under a temporary and unilateral regime announced by the Government, EU goods arriving from the Republic and remaining in Northern Ireland will not be subject to tariffs.

However, tariffs will be payable on goods moving from the EU into the rest of the UK via Northern Ireland under a schedule of rates also released on Wednesday.

The Government insists that this will not create a border down the Irish Sea, as there will be no checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Instead, normal compliance and intelligence methods will be used to detect any traders attempting to abuse the system.

Ministers accepted that the new regime will cause "concerns" to Northern Irish businesses and farmers about the impact on their competitiveness.

But they said these were the only steps that could be taken to deliver on the Government's commitment to avoiding a hard border in the case of no deal.

Under the new regime for Northern Ireland, goods arriving from the Republic will still be subject to the same VAT and excise duty as at present.

Small businesses trading across the border will be able to report VAT online without any new processes at the border.

To protect human, animal and plant health, animals and animal products from outside the EU would be required to enter Northern Ireland through a designated entry point, while regulated plant materials from outside the EU and high-risk plants from inside Europe will require certification and pre-notification.

There will be new UK import requirements such as document checks and registration for a small number of goods such as endangered species and hazardous chemicals which are subject to international agreements.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said: "The Government has been clear that a deal with the European Union is the best outcome for Northern Ireland.

"But we will do all we can to support people and businesses across Northern Ireland in the event that we leave without a deal.

"The measures announced today recognise the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland. These arrangements can only be temporary and short term."

In the case of no-deal, the UK Government is committed to entering discussions urgently with Brussels and Dublin to agree long-term arrangements.

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