The groups wrote to George Eustice and Michael Gove, warning the NI Protocol presented major risks for the seamless movements of goods under current arrangements.
Under the protocol, in order to avoid a hard border in the Irish Sea, goods entering NI would have to comply with the EU’s regime of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls. They would face inspections from relevant health officials to obtain certifications, catch certificates for fish, the use of ISPM-15 compliant heat-treated wooden pallets for transport and new labelling compliant with EU regulations.
Added cost and complexity
“The added cost, complexity and trade friction this inevitably creates means it will no longer be practical for many of our businesses to supply goods from Great Britain for sale in the Northern Ireland market,” read the letter.
“Producers are now preparing for this worst-case scenario and many are planning to stop supplying the Northern Ireland market after 1 January 2021 while they assess if it remains a viable option for their business.”
The development of a trusted trader scheme by the Government would allow the waiving or streamlining of SPS processes. However, the letter raised concerns that the scheme would only be available for goods shipped to NI’s bigger grocery retailers.
Limiting competition and squeezing out small players
The trade bodies warned that such a move would limit competition and put UK suppliers of food and drink – predominantly smaller businesses – at a greater disadvantage in commercial situations.
“We urge the Government to rethink these plans and instead put in place solutions that will work for all parts of the Great Britain-Northern Ireland food and drink supply chain and not just a select few retailers,” the letter added.
“This scheme should be extended to all suppliers or the Government should find a way to effectively replicate the benefits of this scheme more widely.”
The co-signed trade organisations ended the letter by pledging their support for Government efforts to address these issues and create frictionless trade between Great Britain and NI.
Co-signers of the letter sent to Government
- Ian Wright CBE, chief executive, Food and Drink Federation (FDF)
- David Thomson, chief executive, FDF Scotland
- Pete Robertson, director, Food and Drink Federation Cymru
- Richard Hands, chief executive, Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment UK
- Rodney Steel, chief executive, Association for Contract Manufacturing, Packing, Fulfilment & Logistics
- James Lowman, chief executive, Association of Convenience Stores
- David Camp, chief executive, Association of Labour Providers
- Jon Clark, general manager, BPIF Cartons
- Emma McClarkin, chief executive, British Beer and Pub Association
- Paul Rooke, executive director, British Coffee Association
- Walter Anzer, MBE director general, British Food Importers & Distributors Association and the Vinegar Brewers Federation
- Richard Harrow, chief executive, British Frozen Food Federation
- Nick Allen, chief executive, British Meat Processors Association
- Philip Law, director general, British Plastics Federation
- Richard Griffiths, chief executive, British Poultry Council
- Charles Jarrold, chief executive, British Printing Industries Federation
- Gavin Partington, director general, British Soft Drinks Association
- Declan O’Brien, director general, British Specialist Nutrition Association
- Shane Brennan, chief executive, Cold Chain Federation
- Parminder Kaur, chair, Council for Responsible Nutrition UK
- Debbie Waldron-Hoines, director, European Flexographic Industry Association
- Gordon Polson, chief executive, Federation of Bakers
- James Bielby, chief executive, Federation of Wholesale Distributors
- Elsa Fairbanks, director, Food and Drink Exporters Association
- Nigel Jenney, chief executive, Fresh Produce Consortium
- Alex Waugh, director general, National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers
- Lynda Simmons, secretary general, National Edible Oil Distributors’ Association
- Michael Bell, executive director, Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association
- Dick Searle, chief executive, Packaging Federation
- Michael Bellingham, chief executive, Pet Food Manufacturers Association
- Michelle Riddalls, chief executive officer, Proprietary Association of Great Britain
- Andrew Kuyk CBE, director general, Provision Trade Federation
- Glyn Roberts, chief executive, Retail NI
- Karen Betts, chief executive, Scotch Whisky Association
- Colin Smith, chief executive, Scottish Wholesale Association
- Donna Fordyce, head, Seafood Scotland
- Angela Bowden, secretary general, Seed Crushers and Oil Processors Association
- James Smith, chair, UK Flavour Association
- Kate Nicholls, chief executive officer, UKHospitality