Foster ‘committed to finding solutions to post-Brexit trade difficulties’

Stormont’s First Minister has vowed to find a solution to post-Brexit trade difficulties in Northern Ireland.

Arlene Foster acknowledged a significant challenge around how hauliers transport mixed loads from the rest of the UK, stopping at multiple locations to pick up goods.

Red tape has led to empty shelves in some supermarkets as retailers grapple with the new rules.

Mrs Foster said: “We need to see a solution.”

She spoke with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove on Wednesday.

The DUP leader told her Stormont scrutiny committee: “We are absolutely committed to finding solutions to all of these difficulties and that is where our focus is.”

Coronavirus – Tue Jan 12, 2021
Coronavirus – Tue Jan 12, 2021

A particular hurdle has been the logistics practice of groupage.

Groupage means goods from different companies for different customers are transported together on one lorry.

Food products have to meet EU rules when moving from Great Britain into Northern Ireland to preserve the free-flowing Irish land border.

When vets issue certificates for food products the lorry trailer is supposed to be sealed, according to the new regulations.

If goods are picked up from several different warehouses as part of groupage, the seal on the container will have to be broken, the products recertified and seals reapplied.

Small and medium-sized food firms in Northern Ireland often receive products as part of groupage shipments.