Trader Support Service

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 17th November 2020.

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Photo of Mike Nesbitt Mike Nesbitt UUP 3:15 pm, 17th November 2020

T1. Mr Nesbitt asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, given the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) webinar yesterday evening on the subject, for his assessment of the Trader Support Service and the rationale for it. (AQT 691/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I thank the Member for the question. The Trader Support Service is a device of Her Majesty's Government and HMRC. It is a new and unprecedented service. It is a free-to-use, end-to-end service that will guide traders through any changes to the way in which goods move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and into Northern Ireland from outside the UK. Essentially, the Trader Support Service will act as a customs agent and complete declarations on behalf of traders. We encourage any business that moves goods between GB and NI to register for the service and get advice on the new processes being introduced as a result of the protocol.

Photo of Mike Nesbitt Mike Nesbitt UUP

I thank the Minister for that. Given that farmers here have to sign up to the service to bring goods from, say, Scotland into Northern Ireland, does he accept that that proves that, although we may all have joined the EEC as one, we are not all leaving the EU as one?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I entirely agree. We are not leaving the EU as one, which is an irritation to the likes of me. That, however, is an arrangement that has been arrived at between the European Union and Her Majesty's Government. Westminster has sovereignty on these issues. Consequently, we have to live with the outcomes, be they good or be they ill. We can protest and seek to moderate and make changes, and I have been very busy in seeking to moderate and make changes for the benefit of Northern Ireland to mitigate the more damaging aspects of the protocol as it is applied.