Reviewed in September 2020. Content will be updated as negotiations develop.

What Can Businesses Do Now?

There are a couple of actions which businesses could take now to help prepare their supply chain for the end of the transition period. These include:

  • Engage with your suppliers: It is vital that businesses engage with their existing suppliers to assess their level of readiness for the end of the transition period. By assessing their readiness businesses should be able to develop a stronger understanding of each supplier and their needs. This will also help businesses determine if they need to source alternative suppliers. All of this should lead to a higher level of resilience in advance of the end of the transition period.
  • Understand what Trade Routes your business takes: It is important for businesses to understand not just where your imports/exports are coming from or going to but also how they get there. By understanding how goods reach your business or your customer it will make it easier to determine the likely impact of any customs procedures on your goods.

Brexit and Supply Chains

With just over 100 days to go until the end of the transition period, now is a good time to consider what is the latest developments with Brexit and how that may impact upon your supply chain beyond the end of the year. 
At present, negotiations between the UK and EU are ongoing and the outcome remains uncertain. However, there are several areas which we have received some clarity on. 

Impact on Cross Border Supply Chains

Throughout most of the Brexit negotiations much of the discussion has focused on the impact on the Irish Border. However, with the signing of the Withdrawal Agreement in January this year, this issue has been resolved. Following the end of the transition period, trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland will continue as it does currently. There will be no customs declarations required or tariffs applicable on cross border trade. This is a great relief for many Northern Irish businesses who will be able to both source supplies and sell their products to customers across the border. 

Impact on Great Britain (GB)

Whilst there is going to be minimal changes to supply chains cross border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, the same cannot be said with regards to trade with GB. A major part of the Withdrawal Agreement is the Protocol on Northern Ireland. The Protocol will see Northern Ireland continue to form part of the EU Single Market for Goods. This will result in the introduction of a customs border in the Irish Sea. This means that any business who is importing into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK will be required to submit customs declarations for any shipments coming into Northern Ireland. 

Trader Support Service (TSS)

To help businesses in Northern Ireland manage their customs requirements and fulfil any declarations, the Government has announced the creation of a Trader Support Service (TSS). Under the TSS, the Government will provide registered firms with a list of information that is required to complete customs declarations. Once the firm provides this information it will then be collated, and the applicable customs declarations will be submitted on behalf of the registered firm. This service will be free to all registered firms. Funding for this service is currently in place for two years following the transition period. 

More information about the Trader Support Service including information on how to register can be found online here

Whilst Northern Ireland will continue to be part of the EU Single Market for Goods, it will also continue to form part of the UK customs territory. As a result, there will be no tariffs applicable on goods being imported from the rest of the UK if these goods remain in Northern Ireland. 

However, if a good is deemed to be “At Risk” of entering Ireland, then you would be required to pay any applicable tariff. Should it be proven that a good subsequently stayed in Northern Ireland then the tariff would be refunded. There is still some uncertainty over exactly what will be classed as being “At Risk”. 

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