Posted on Monday 3 September 2018 by John Mulgrew

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There could now be a worrying “dark horizon” for Northern Ireland’s economy as the Government publishes its paper on a potential “disastrous” no deal Brexit scenario.

The planning documents show that, if the UK doesn’t secure a deal with the EU, it will mean everything from customs duties being payable – including a suggestion firms take on their own ‘customs brokers’ to deal with the bureaucracy, invest in software and warehousing.

It also suggests that the UK Government is still up in the air as regard to the impact on Northern Ireland, in particular, and that it strongly wishes to avoid a ‘no deal’ scenario without a legal agreement between the UK and EU, taking “full account of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland”.

Unless an agreement can be made, it further confirms that World Trade Organization (WTO) tariffs would be in place on imports from the EU, on day one.

That could mean an average of 22% on food – something which has been branded as “disastrous” for consumers and businesses, according to Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.

“This will translate into price rises which is disaster for our consumers who already have half of the discretionary income of our GB counterparts,” he said.

Northern Ireland businesses have also been told to start making preparations for the ‘no deal’ Brexit by contacting the Irish Government to discuss potential arrangements if the UK and the EU fails to broker a deal.

“The Irish government have indicated they would need to discuss arrangements in the event of no deal with the European Commission and EU member states,” the document says.

“We would recommend that, if you trade across the land border, you should consider whether you will need advice from the Irish government about preparations you need to make.”

As for workers, it’s believed that EU rules will be transposed into UK legislation, but could face some minor changes.

The document shows that customs declarations would be required on importing goods from the EU which will add to the time, cost, and red tape of bringing goods into Northern Ireland.

Announcing the publication of the documents, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab reasserted the government’s commitments to Northern Ireland and how they were committed to ensuring there was no hard border at the Irish border.

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