The Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) has called for agreed solutions between the UK and EU, following the progression of legislation in the UK Parliament to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Michael Bell, executive director of the NIFDA said:

“Given the integrated nature of supply chains on and between these islands, and the importance of both markets, food and drink businesses in Northern Ireland need to have frictionless trade with the UK and the EU.

“We need both, and simply cannot be forced to choose. The livelihoods of 113,000 people depend on the prosperity of Northern Ireland food and drink.

“The Northern Ireland business community as a whole has been working to find and encourage practical solutions to maintaining frictionless trade since 2016.

“For the past six years, we have been engaging with the UK government and EU to ensure that any new trading arrangement with the EU met four key tests – affordability, certainty, simplicity, and stability.

“NIFDA supports the Northern Ireland Protocol and believes it has largely given businesses here that certainty, solving many of the challenges that Brexit posed to Northern Ireland food and drink businesses.

“It has been vital to ensuring continuity of trade in goods across the island of Ireland, and between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

“Crucially, it secured Northern Ireland’s ability to freely export to both the EU and the rest of the UK.

“For a minority of our members, there have been issues, some of which have been dealt with by the grace periods, and NIFDA has been working with the government to highlight areas where processes can be streamlined, and improvements made.

“This is the beginning of the legislative process, but the only path to a long term, durable solution is through negotiation, and identifying practical solutions to address the remaining issues that the protocol presents.

“NIFDA will continue to engage with both the UK and EU to encourage these agreed solutions.”