This week the UK government and the EU finally came up with an agreement a protocol for trade with Northern Ireland. The Windsor Framework which has been agreed in principle covers, amongst other things, new arrangements on customs, agri-food, medicines, VAT and excise.
The new agreement keeps Northern Ireland inside the single market and ensures that the Irish land border remains open. Goods going into Northern Ireland which will remain in the country can now go through a green channel, while those destined for Ireland will go through a red channel.
To use the green lane businesses will need to register as a trusted trader under the new United Kingdom Internal Market Scheme (UKIMS). Supermarkets and other large businesses that are members of an existing scheme will be automatically moved onto UKIMS.
The agreement should cut the bureaucracy and paperwork involved.
Justin Leonard from Jackie Leonard and Son, a wholesaler in Dublin welcomes the latest deal.
“Northern Ireland will not be considered a 3rd country anymore, which has been the case for the last few years. I’m hoping we can now get product from the UK faster. I don’t think we will return to next day arrivals but I hope we can get a two-day delivery in place, instead of the current 4-5 days.”
Justin said there has been very little UK produce coming to Ireland in last couple of years, due to the long delivery times and heaps of paperwork involved. There will still be restrictions on produce from mainland Europe, but delays via the UK land bridge to Ireland, should not be as severe as prior to the Windsor agreement.
Renewed access for Scottish seed potatoes
Under the previous agreement – The Northern Ireland Protocol - seed potatoes from the UK were banned entry into Northern Ireland, this was a major blow for seed companies, especially in Scotland who provided the majority of seed potatoes.
The Windsor Framework will reopen the Northern Ireland market for seed exports.
Wilson’s Country, one of the leading potato brands in Northern Ireland, supplying retailers, foodservice and food manufacturers across all of Ireland with their products had been importing high quality seed from Scotland for over 3 decades.
Angus Wilson from the company said it would have taken years to develop a high quality supply of seed in Northern Ireland. “We brought in seed before the ban and have been growing it out over the last two years, but it loses quality and vigour over time. We were making plans, but thankfully seed potatoes is one of the concessions of the framework and we can now bring in Scottish seed again. It is too late for this year though.
“Northern Ireland can become a gateway to Europe, we are advised by DEFRA that we can grow the Scottish seed potatoes one year and then sell the next generation to Europe. This could be done in partnership with Scottish seed producers.”