UK, NI and Irish retailers warn over Brexit no deal
Written by Peter Walker
Retail industry bodies from the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland have come together to issue a stark warning on how a no-deal Brexit will affect shoppers.
With less than 40 days until the UK leaves the European Union, Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland and William Bain, head of EU and international at the British Retail Consortium, have shared their concerns that a no-deal Brexit will squeeze household budgets and lead to reduced availability of some goods.
The organisations have highlighted how increased tariffs and new regulatory checks would lead to increases in the cost of making fresh food and drink available to consumers. They estimated these tariffs could see increases of up to 45 per cent on some everyday food items should the UK and EU27 revert to World Trade Organisation Most Favoured Nation Tariffs.
Connolly said: “A no-deal Brexit brings tariffs, customs processes, checks and costs which our industry, and Northern Ireland families in particular, cannot afford to absorb – this is not acceptable.
"A hard Brexit means a hard border and the disintegration of supply chains that have been built up over 40 years of EU membership,” he stated. “This is not a binary choice for Northern Ireland between trade with the UK and trade with the EU – our economy is built on access to both markets and we need that to survive. “
Burke said a no deal Brexit would have devastating economic consequences and must be avoided.
“However, regardless of the type of Brexit agreed over the coming weeks, retailers will see an increase in their operating costs arising from checks at ports and other supply chain disruption,” he said, adding: “Our members continue to work hard to plan for all possible eventualities, but the ongoing uncertainty is damaging our industry and impacting our customers."
Bain pointed out that supply chains are highly integrated, with food ingredients coming from both Ireland and the EU, and 60 per cent of the £2 billion of Northern Irish agri-food bound for Great Britain crosses the Irish sea via Dublin.
"The time for brinksmanship and political games has long past,” he commented.
“A no deal outcome would have devastating economic consequences, potentially jeopardising years of positive economic development and integration across the islands of the UK and Ireland. It is imperative that this is avoided.”