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Northern Ireland Protocol: Infrastructure at Ports

Volume 679: debated on Wednesday 2 September 2020

What assessment he has made of the infrastructure that will be required at ports in Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland protocol. (905442)

With just four months left until the protocol comes into force, the National Farmers Union has warned that a clear lack of guidance is threatening the trade in agrifood products—Northern Ireland’s largest import. So can the Secretary of State clear one thing up—will each agrifood product require an export licence certificate, costing up to £200, or not?

As I have set out previously, the protocol obliges both the UK and the EU to seek to streamline trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and to avoid controls at Northern Ireland ports as far as possible. As the hon. Member may well know, discussions are ongoing about the process by which this is conducted and the frequency. We want to bring the level of checks down to a proportionate and pragmatic level, as we have outlined before, for agrifoods and live animals. At Larne and Belfast there have been checks of one form or another in place since, I think, about the 19th century, and that is what we are building on. But there will be no new infrastructure.