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DUP - UK Government Deal: Its Implications for GB - NI Trade

Recent announcements that a deal on powersharing has been reached between Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the UK government have implications for the trading relationship between NI and GB, in particular, on the movement of goods between both countries. Crucially, the deal is expected to bring about a reduction in checks on goods moving between NI and GB in place under the current Windsor Framework.  

The Windsor Framework currently in place prevented a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland following the UK’s exit from the EU, keeping Northern Ireland in the EU single market whilst still ensuring its access to the UK internal market. This meant, however, that goods moving between the two countries were subject to several checks under a ‘red lane – green lane’ system.  

Whilst the official implications of the agreement are yet to be discussed, the deal comes with key changes to the current UK Internal Market Act set out in the Windsor Framework. Ahead we outline some of the proposed changes likely to affect traders.  

Friction-free movements between GB and NI 

No exit procedures or customs formalities will be required for goods moving from NI to GB. A limited set of commercial data will still be collected to facilitate the management of the UK internal market scheme. Likewise, no checks will be carried out on NI goods destined for the UK even if they enter indirectly, i.e. through the port of Dublin.  

The current ‘green lane’ system for goods deemed to be not as risk of entering the EU is to be replaced by broader UK Internal Market Scheme to prevent unnecessary friction between both countries. As a result, more than 80% of freight between GB and NI is to be classed as ‘not as risk’ of entering the EU.  

Reduced checks on SPS goods and agri-foods  

Under the new agreement, Northern Ireland registered agri-foods and feed operators will experience fewer Sanitary Phytosanitary checks. The previous protocol saw a percentage of physical checks on SPS goods from NI exporters: from 15% for dairy to 30% for red meat, fish and poultry and 100% for some fruit and vegetables. These physical checks will no longer take place except where intelligence suggests abuse of the scheme or any other criminal activity. Identity checks for other, lower risk SPS goods, likewise, will reduce considerably, falling to 5% percent by 2025.

The Windsor Framework enabled a larger range of Rest of World SPS goods to move into Northern Ireland than previously under EU regulations. As a result, an additional 26 Rest of World meat and plant products will be able to move under the Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme without the need for veterinary health certificates.  

Labelling requirements that saw GB agri-food and drink products destined for NI labelled as ‘not for EU sale’ will be extended to all agri-food products across the UK.  

Traders will still need to be signed up to the UK internal market scheme (UKIMS) scheme or Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme for agri-food retail goods to move goods between NI and GB. Crucially, businesses sending parcels to consumers for personal use do not need to be registered. Traders can sign up to the scheme here.  

Since the ink is still wet on this agreement, many regulations and plans for their implementation are still to be announced. We will continue to update you as these become available. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest updates on GB – NI trade. For further support navigating the new regulations, contact our international trade specialists at  

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