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Export Costs: Northern Ireland to Great Britain

Volume 680: debated on Tuesday 15 September 2020

What discussions officials from (a) his Department and (b) HMRC have had with businesses in Northern Ireland on potential additional costs for exporting goods to Great Britain from Northern Ireland under the withdrawal agreement. (906055)

The Government have been actively engaging with businesses and fully committed to providing them with the information and support needed to prepare for the end of the transition period in Northern Ireland. As was set out in the Command Paper, the Government’s position is that there should be no additional process, paperwork or restrictions on Northern Ireland goods arriving in the rest of the UK.

While I welcome the provisions of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill debated yesterday, they do not cover the issue that the EU is demanding that goods coming into Northern Ireland have tariffs imposed on them until it is proven that they have not left Northern Ireland and gone into the EU. This is damaging to business, because it requires additional paperwork, will affect cash flow, and will put up costs. Given that the Government are committed to keeping Northern Ireland in the UK customs union, that the Act of Union says that there should be no tariffs on trade between countries within the United Kingdom, and that 75% of goods do not leave Northern Ireland once they enter anyhow, will the Minister give a commitment to ensuring in the Finance Bill that the EU demand for those tariffs to be collected will be removed so that Northern Ireland businesses are not disadvantaged?

As the right hon. Gentleman will know, these topics are currently very live matters of discussion between this country and the EU, and I am not going to comment on that. However, we are, as a Government, very engaged with this issue across a number of different Departments, and we will be looking to support the principles and positions set out in the protocol as we go forward.