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UK calls for extension of NI post-Brexit grace period

The post-Brexit chaos continues. As exporters, importers and hauliers are learning to operate within the new system and get adjusted to the numerous formalities and red tape, other industries are struggling to keep business going. Problems are not only seen in individual sectors and industries but also contribute to turbulence in cross-country relationships. One issue, widely commented on, in the news, in the recent days is the post-Brexit grace period in relation to trade with Northern Ireland.

UK asking the EU to be ‘pragmatic’

Things turned sour between Brussels and the UK last month when the EU threatened to override parts of the Brexit deal that referred to exporting goods into the UK via Northern Ireland. The 27 bloc members faced shortages in the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine and threatened to halt exports of the jab to the UK, which would have breached Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

This specific document has been put in place to avoid a hard border between NI and Great Britain but it has subsequently resulted in more checks at borders, often causing delays in food supply-chain and shortages in Irish supermarkets. 

With some politicians in NI demanding for the protocol to be abandoned altogether, on Monday this week, Michael Gove requested the EU Commission to be ‘pragmatic’ and to extend the grace period under which transport of food from Britain to NI would not be subject to the new post-Brexit regulations for at least the next two years. 

“There are a number of issues … where we believe that we do need refinement of the way in which the protocol operates for it to be effective in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland,” Gove told the lawmakers.

Brussels spokespeople have not issued an official response yet but the EU Commission is poised to reject the request. The European Commission declined to comment directly on Gove’s remarks, but a spokeswoman said last December’s Brexit deal would not be reopened. There are speculations, however, that they may offer an extension of up to six months.

A former Brexit advisor to the UK Government, Rauol Ruparel believes that by asking for pragmatism, Gove is actually asking for the EU to make changes in the EU law. Hence why it is not surprising that the EU is unwilling to grant this request. 

Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) with India

As the politicians work to get the NI Protocol issue resolved, the International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is on the brink of striking a substantial post-Brexit trade deal with India. The talks between Ms Truss and her Indian counterpart, Shri Piyush Goyal have resulted in their agreement to “accelerate the process towards” an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP). 

The trade deal with India will be cemented later on this year when the UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson travels to India. 

Post-Brexit customs declarations and grace periods are still at the forefront of political discussions as well as business considerations. If you’re looking to work with import and export customs declarations experts, get in touch with the UKCS team today! 

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