Major Changes for Northern Ireland Trade

14 February 2024


The rules for trade between Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and the EU have been the focus of much attention recently, and are in the process of significant change.

The latest policy, published by the UK government on 31 January, set out new trade arrangements and received the backing of Northern Ireland's largest unionist party, clearing the way for the restoration of devolved government by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The new deal reduces checks and paperwork on goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.  There will be no routine checks on British goods sold to consumers in Northern Ireland.

Some British products brought into Northern Ireland for processing will still face full customs processes, however.

Two new pieces of legislation will be introduced, to guarantee that all Northern Irish goods can be sold in Great Britain, and also to confirm Northern Ireland's place in the UK.

What about the Northern Ireland Protocol and Windsor Framework?

These important developments take place in the context of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which came into effect in January 2021, which required checks on goods from Great Britain, at Northern Ireland's ports, even if the goods were to remain there.

The Protocol was amended by the Windsor Framework, adopted by the UK and EU in 2023, which created two "lanes" for goods arriving from Great Britain into Northern Ireland, a “red lane” being for goods destined for the EU, and a “green lane” for the rest.  This arrangement took effect on 1 October 2023, despite some objections.

The new deal increases the flexibility allowed under the existing Windsor Framework, but does not change its most fundamental elements.

Keeping Abreast of Developments

Chamber International tracks developments in international trade, especially those that directly affect British businesses.  Our specialists are ready to provide help and assistance, from interpreting and applying regulations, and dealing with complex matters such as export licensing and rules of origin, to handling customs clearances and documentation on your behalf. 

On 27 April, our seminar titled Shipping to and from Northern Ireland - including the Windsor Framework will help businesses of all types understand the developing situation, including how it affects the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM), and adjust their strategies to ensure efficient, profitable trade across the Irish Sea.


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