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Streamlining Trade and Food Regulations for Northern Ireland
As the impact of Brexit continues to unfold, businesses in Northern Ireland have received updated guidance on the Windsor Framework. This framework, which modifies the 2019 UK-EU Northern Ireland Protocol, aims to address trade frictions between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Key features include a trusted trader scheme for food retailers and the introduction of green and red lanes at Northern Ireland ports. However, the framework also entails the implementation of ‘Not for EU’ labels on certain food products sold in Northern Ireland.
Trusted Trader Scheme Enhancing Trade
At the heart of the Windsor Framework lies the NI Retail Movement Scheme (NIRMS), a trusted trader scheme created to streamline trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The NIRMS registration process opens on 1st September and requires both the business sending the consignment from Great Britain and the business receiving it in Northern Ireland to be registered for smooth operations. The scheme is designed to facilitate the movement of goods and reduce trade barriers.
Harmonizing Food Standards for Northern Ireland
Under the new framework, food products produced according to UK standards can continue to be sold in Northern Ireland with minimal paperwork when transported from Great Britain. However, this also necessitates the introduction of ‘Not for EU’ labels on these food items. Starting from October, prepacked meat and fresh milk must bear these labels, with labeling for other goods to be rolled out by July 2025.
Replacing STAMNI with NIRMS for Efficient Trade
The NIRMS will replace the current Scheme for Temporary Agri-food Movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI), predominantly used by major supermarkets. The government assures existing STAMNI traders of a smooth transition to the new scheme, ensuring their goods movements are not disrupted during the process. During the initial months of NIRMS implementation, special measures will be in place to enable existing STAMNI traders to benefit from the advantages of the new Green Lane.
Handling ‘Groupage’ Freight Effectively
Addressing concerns about ‘groupage’ freight, where goods from various companies are consolidated into a single lorry load, the guidance clarifies that if a grouped load contains a mixture of NIRMS-compliant and ineligible goods, the entire lorry cannot benefit from all NIRMS facilitations. Nevertheless, the NIRMS-compliant portions of the mixed load can still be moved using a simplified certificate, eliminating the need for individual veterinary-signed health certifications for each product.
Seeking Clarity on New Food Labels
The House of Lords Northern Ireland Protocol Committee has sought urgent clarification from the UK foreign secretary regarding certain aspects of the new labelling requirements for food products. Despite this, the government maintains that the Windsor Framework presents the best deal for Northern Ireland, promoting smooth trade flow, safeguarding Northern Ireland’s position within the union, and providing a robust framework to tackle future challenges. The government is actively collaborating with businesses, communities, and political parties to ensure the effective implementation of the framework.