North/South Ministerial Council: Trade and Business Development

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:00 am on 15th December 2020.

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Photo of Diane Dodds Diane Dodds DUP 11:00 am, 15th December 2020

I thank the Member for her question. InterTradeIreland has a number of programmes that it has been using to help those businesses that it works with to prepare for the end of the transition period. That, as well as the work that Invest Northern Ireland is doing, has been important in helping businesses to prepare.

Just so that we could have a little bit of thought about that, I printed off, for the week beginning 7 December, the kind of things that, for example, Invest Northern Ireland was doing with businesses. They include working with businesses in the chemicals industry, fisheries and the legal sphere; looking at authorised economic operator status, the export of live animals and animal products, the moving of animal products from 1 January, inward processing relief, customs warehousing, and the trading and moving of goods in and out of Northern Ireland; and providing a large range of information and webinar support to businesses just last week.

Of course, the Member is absolutely correct: last week's announcement will have helped significantly, particularly around the movement of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain and the fact that there will not be excess paperwork and bureaucracy. That still leaves the issue of the Trader Support Service and the hope that it will work; that enough firms in Northern Ireland have signed up, as well as enough firms in Great Britain, to make sure that it works. It also includes the small derogations for a brief and limited period. Those are real, live issues that need resolution. It has avoided a hard stop but not provided that resolution.