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Northern Ireland delays set to worsen as UK-EU talks stall

[ February 26, 2021   //   ]

A UK-EU Joint Committee meeting on 24 February has failed to extend the grace period on new controls on parcels and food moving between the UK and Northern Ireland, due to end on 31 March. This could increase which could increase delays and red tape significantly, said broker ParcelHero.

The UK Government had asked for the delay to be extended until 2023.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, said: “A waiver on customs declarations for parcels sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland runs out on 31 March. This is followed by certification requirements on supermarket goods being ramped up. Last week, ParcelHero called for the Government to do everything in its power to renegotiate these deadlines with the EU. On Wednesday, however, talks aimed at postponing these draconian measures ended without agreement. Unless there is a last-minute deal, this is extremely bad news for both NI citizens and anyone sending parcels to Northern Ireland.”

He warned that parcels sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland with a value of over £135 would face similar problems to those that have affected UK-EU shipments since the start of the year. Customs declarations will be needed, even though they would be UK domestic shipments and, if there was no proof that goods originated in the UK, there would also be tariffs to pay.

Jinks said: “As well as new tariffs, delays experienced since the start of the year will get worse. These are already becoming intolerable for some businesses. According to the Government’s own Office for National Statistics figures, a massive 44% of retailers and wholesalers reported the volume of goods they shipped to Northern Ireland decreased markedly in the two weeks from 25 January to 7 February, compared to the preceding fortnight. 31.5% of manufacturers reported their export volumes to Northern Ireland fell during the period. Of all businesses who had sent, or intended to send, goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in the last two weeks, 38% reported sending fewer goods.”

Jinks added that a joint statement issued after the meeting did suggest a new operational plan with respect to supermarkets and their suppliers. “We very much hope this new plan can somehow mirror the current regulations, although the straightforward shelving of the pending changes is clearly the most effective solution.”