The government have recently published a paper confirming their stance in relation to the border controls and tariffs to be placed between Ireland (EU) and Mainland UK (including Northern Ireland). It has always been a vital part of the negotiations that there will not be a hard border crossing between Ireland and Northern Ireland. This is to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.
It has been confirmed there will be NO tariffs for goods between Northern Ireland and mainland UK as we are all part of the same customs territory. Ireland however is part of the EU customs territory. This means that when we leave the EU on 31 December 2020 tariffs will be due on goods passing between UK (including Northern Ireland) and Ireland, however, there will be no customs checks or border crossing between the 2 countries.
It has been agreed that the ‘border crossing’ or ‘customs checks’ will be on the UK side of the sea crossing. Tariffs will be required to be paid for goods that could (UK Government has classed these as ‘at risk’ products) be going to Ireland but if it transpires that these goods are destined for Northern Ireland these tariffs will be refunded from the government.
For this to be successful there will be some new electronic administrative import declarations that will need to be completed before the product moves from the UK to Northern Ireland. This is to ensure that tariffs are not paid on product moving from mainland UK to Northern Ireland. If it proves that this is too much of a burden on traders, the UK Government will consider how this burden can be reduced or potentially removed.
It is to be noted that these arrangements are only in place until 2024 when the elected institutions will decide if the measures are sufficient and working or if they require change.
As we move into the future, the agreements need to be flexible and adaptive to the current situation at the time. This has been made clear by the government and therefore this may change soon.