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Post-Brexit rules could play havoc with Ulster food chain, says Gove

[ November 25, 2020   //   ]

Companies ending food products from mainland Great Britain to Northern Ireland could face a mass of paperwork, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove told the Logistics UK Get Ready for Brexit online seminar on 25 November.

Asked about the current status of the Retailer Movement Scheme that would govern freight movements between GB and Northern Ireland after the end of Brexit transition on 1 January, he said that negotiations with the EU joint committee were still continuing and that there remained challenges over Export Health Certificates (EHCs) and EU Single Market rules governing the transport of cooked foodstuffs into the EU from third countries.

Because Northern Ireland would remain part of the EU customs territory after Brexit, movement of any such goods from the GB mainland to Northern Ireland would, in theory, be government by the same rules that control movements from third countries to the EU.

Gove told the seminar that any consolidated load for a supermarket in Northern Ireland would require “a huge number” of EHCs. However, he said that the EU’s position that the UK-produced foods should, immediately after Brexit, be subject to the same rules as produce from Australia or New Zealand was “illogical”.

He added: “We will have to navigate a way through the complex legalese and I am confident that we will be able to do so.”

However, the government would not be able to make any public announcements until the negotiations were complete.

Later in the conference, Logistics UK policy manager for Northern Ireland, Seamus Leheny, said that a large seven-bay Border Inspection Post at the port of Belfast was under construction, but would not be ready until next year.