M&S boss outlines issues facing trade with Northern Ireland
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Chairman of M&S Archie Norman explained wagons now entering the Republic of Ireland “have to carry 700 pages of documentation”, which takes 8 hours to fill in and added most of the products that they carry need to have descriptors written in Latin. In light of the implications concerning NI agreement, Mr Norman shared concern over local businesses saying “it would be simply impossible for small cheesemakers or cake bakers to export” and branded EU proposal to have same background checks for NI “highly bureaucratic and pretty pointless’.
Talking to BBC Radio 4, Mr Norman said: “So at the moment wagons arriving in the Republic of Ireland have to carry 700 pages of documentation.
“Takes 8 hours to prepare the documentation.
“Some of the descriptors, particularly of animal products, have to be written in Latin.
“Takes 30 percent more drive time.
“So it’s very, very onerous costs, about 30 million pounds.
“At the moment in Northern Ireland, we’ve got what’s called an easement.
“The controls aren’t the same, but the EU is looking for us to impose comparable controls for Northern Ireland.
“And when that happens, that would mean that quite a lot of products from the UK simply wouldn’t get to Northern Ireland.
“And what does go there would be very, very costly.
“Mark and Spenser is a big company, we can make almost everything work, but for the small artists and cheesemakers, all cake bakers and so on, it would be simply impossible to export at the moment.”
He also added: “Mark and Spencer is very much in the front line of this problem.
“We had our business in France exporting into France, but we’ve had to close that because of customs rules.
“We have a big business in the Republic of Ireland and we very much want to continue, but t’s proving very very hard to make it work.
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“At the moment we’re pretty much okay in Northern Ireland, it’s costing more money.
“But to give you an idea, it takes an hour to prepare documentation to get into Northern Ireland and 8 hours to get into Dublin.
“The EU proposal is that we should have to do the same background checks to go into Northern Ireland, that means that every piece of butter in a sandwich has to have an EU vet certificate.
“So it’s highly bureaucratic and pretty pointless”.
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