The question is not whether or not there is a trade Agreement between the UK and EU in the first week of December. Rather it is a question of preparedness for either scenario.
This episode looks at the monumental scale of unpreparedness for any level of Trade Agreement, by just about everyone – it isn’t just the UK Govt struggling with the reality of it all. There has been some general media reporting on this in recent weeks, but print and broadcast media sometimes avoid specifics to save baffling the reader, listener, or viewer.
On CapX the broad shape of what the British Government is trying desperately to avoid calling a border is emerging, and the contradictions between intent, policy and implementation laid bare. This is the article mentioned in the podcast.
The Devil, however, is in the detail, and this episode explains the current hell into which hauliers are staring.
The point is made that this is not just about Northern Ireland and trade with the rest of the UK. The underlying software needed to make trade work smoothly post-transition, is for all trade with the EU.
It’s a shambles. Govt tell us what we have to do but not how to do it. How the IT systems that will make it work has only been shared with a small number of operators.
Most of us don’t know and that’s an absolute crisis with only 30 days to go. @RHARodMcKenzie @SkyNews pic.twitter.com/qtDXzvDUaR
— RHA News (@RHANews) November 26, 2020
Of course in the Withdrawal Agreement (and Protocol) Northern Ireland is for customs purposes within the UK Customs territory, we are told. Goods will move seamlessly, unfettered, we are told. The detail suggests otherwise.
The Protocol arrangements means the cost of doing business for Northern Ireland traders, the ability to complete as equals within the UK Internal Market, will be much reduced. Those added costs will also weaken competitiveness in other markets too, such as in the Republic of Ireland and rest of the EU. Best of both worlds? Hardly.
Worse, there is a whole different level of complexity for the smaller trader, that might in time be resolved by the tech wizards of the big multiples and major manufacturers well used to managing complex logistical processes. For now no-one has a close where or what will be required for the 1st January, and that is regardless of any trade agreement, because not matter the scale or nature of the agreement there is a bureaucrat in Brussels who will insist on the paperwork.
In the wake of Covid, NI business needs this debacle like a hole in the head.
In the final analysis the only certainty is that it will be the Northern Ireland consumer who will ultimately pay.