Avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland in a no deal scenario

Clay Curtis
March 14, 2019

The British government published their plans on Tuesday, ahead of a critical vote in parliament, where MPs will decide whether to rule out a "no-deal" Brexit.

But tariffs would be imposed on some imports from the EU.

Imports such as beef, "cheddar-like" cheese and butter would be subject to tariffs as a percentage of the EU's "most favoured nation" level - a World Trade Organisation measure.

Under the plan, exporting directly from the RoI to Great Britain means firms will face tariffs on their agricultural goods.

Britain said on Wednesday it would eliminate import tariffs on a wide range of goods and avoid a so-called hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The government said 87% of all goods entering the country would face zero tariffs, with import taxes remaining for only 13% of incoming goods.

He argued that businesses may not comply with new legal obligations in a no-deal scenario "leading to the likelihood of a step change in the scale and significance of smuggling and organised crime". The UK government has stated that it would closely monitor the effects of these tariffs on the UK economy.

The government recognises that Northern Ireland's businesses and farmers will have concerns about the impact that the government's approach will have on their competitiveness.

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To protect human, animal and plant health, animals and animal products from outside the European Union would be required to enter Northern Ireland through a designated entry point, while regulated plant materials from outside the European Union and high-risk plants from inside Europe will require certification and pre-notification.

He said businesses in Northern Ireland which process goods and materials brought over from the border from the Republic could also benefit.

To fulfil essential global obligations, there would be new United Kingdom import requirements such as checks on documents or registration for a very limited set of goods, such as endangered species and hazardous chemicals.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley said: "The government has been clear that a deal with the European Union is the best outcome for Northern Ireland". The government is committed to entering into discussions with the European Commission and the Irish Government as a matter of urgency.

It says the plan recognises the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland.

"If we leave without a deal, we will set the majority of our import tariffs to zero, whilst maintaining tariffs for the most sensitive industries", Trade Policy Minister George Hollingbery said.

The decision to refrain from checks at the Irish border would be temporary while longer term solutions were negotiated.

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