09/07/2019

No-Deal Brexit Branded 'Biggest Threat Since The Troubles'

A retail body has warned that a no-deal Brexit would pose the single biggest threat to the Northern Ireland economy since the Troubles.

Director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC), Aodhan Connolly made the comments when responding to a consultation by the Alternative Arrangements Commission (AAC) and highlighted the economic cross-roads facing the region with potential chaos for supply chains.

"A no-deal Brexit is the single biggest threat to the Northern Ireland economy since the Troubles," Mr Connolly commented. "It will mean the systematic disintegration of supply chains that have been built up, not over the past 21 years of peace, but over 40 years of membership of the European Union. It will be a disaster for NI businesses and households."

The NIRC was responding to proposals for the Irish Border aimed at removing the need for the Backstop. Opponents to the measure, which was facilitated in the Withdrawal Agreement agreed with the EU but rejected by Parliament, argue the merits of technological and administrative solutions to operate the border.
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Mr Connolly said: "It is obvious that the AAC has listened to the people of Northern Ireland and particularly the border areas on its recent visits. It is now much more aware of the challenges that a border will bring to business and communities and it is commendable that they are working to prevent the disaster of no-deal. However, currently used technology cannot solve the particular problems on the border. It is not proven to do so anywhere else and our economy cannot be anyone's experiment.

"The proposed mobile checks not only put unbearable costs into the supply chain but do not fulfil the UK Government's commitment to 'the avoidance of a hard border, including any infrastructure or related checks and controls'. So much of this is predicated on the EU agreeing to fundamental changes and the suggested Free-zones are a non-starter that will create more borders and layers not less. The solutions proffered add complexity and costs that will make business in NI less competitive and in some cases unviable.

"Our tests for any alternative arrangements remain the same. They must add to the backstop not take away from it. There must be no new rules of origin complications, free movement without a VAT border, and we must not have no SPS checks on either side of the border. It must deal with the CTC and the need to scan on both sides of the border, not have new infrastructure and no new cost burdens on business. In short a SME business who make up the majority of our supply chain should be able to trade the same as it does today. Currently these proposals do not come close to meeting these tests."



(JG/MH)

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