Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Ireland says extension of 21 months would allow 'rethink' of Brexit

Ireland says extension of 21 months would allow 'rethink' of Brexit

The Government's contingency plans were revealed on Wednesday morning, ahead of the Spring Statement and a crucial no-deal Brexit vote in parliament. The tariff on imported textiles will also be slashed by 90%. However, there would be no checks between Northern Ireland and Britain.

The news comes after Theresa May's Brexit deal was rejected for a second time last night despite making a "breakthrough" on the Irish backstop.

Though - to avoid a hard border - there will be no tariffs on goods moving from Ireland to Northern Ireland under temporary no-deal Brexit plans announced by the United Kingdom government, tariffs will be imposed on any goods moving either through Northern Ireland to the rest of the United Kingdom or directly to the UK.

This latest announcement stated that around 87% (by value) of imported goods would see a zero tariff in a "no deal" Brexit (around 80% of imported goods (by value) are now tariff-free, according to the BBC).

However it is understood that the Department for International Trade's policy on the exact same issue is that diverting through Northern Ireland exclusively to avoid tariffs would be unlawful - although goods are not going to be subject to checks anyway.

Rates include beef (53 per cent of MFN), poultry meat (60 per cent), sheep meat (100 per cent), pig meat (13 per cent), butter (32 per cent), Cheddar-like cheese (13 per cent), protected fish and seafood products (100 per cent) and milled and semi-milled products (83 per cent).

This table summarises applied UK tariffs in key sectors in a No Deal scenario

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.

Ministers accepted that the new regime will cause "concerns" to Northern Irish businesses and farmers about the impact on their competitiveness.

"The measures announced today recognise the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland".

In other words, could a Monaghan meat firm move its goods directly to a Glasgow buyer without being subject to tariffs, so long as they move the goods through an NI port?

Northern Ireland Secretary 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.

"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. These arrangements can only be temporary and short-term.

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