If retailers don’t know how to correctly label products for the green lane, cross-border trade between Britain and Northern Ireland simply won’t work, group warns
It is vital that labelling issues resulting from the Windsor Framework are resolved before an October deadline, the British Retail Consortium has stressed.
The framework was agreed by the EU and the UK earlier this year, and was designed to ease post-Brexit trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The BRC said the government needs to provide clarity before the deadline. The organisation’s director of food and sustainability, Andrew Opie, told a House of Lords committee he expects the first guidance on labelling to be published in the next 10 days, after Northern Ireland’s local elections.
The Windsor Framework aims to majorly reduce the number of checks required on goods passing from Britain to Northern Ireland by introducing a system of green and red lanes at Northern Ireland’s ports.
Labelling will determine whether or not you can trade in the red or green lane. The green lanes will be set aside for British goods remaining in Northern Ireland, and will be labelled ‘not for EU’.
Meanwhile, goods crossing into the Republic of Ireland, and therefore the EU, will use the red lane.
Products passing through the green lane will not need checks and will require minimal paperwork, while red lane goods will be subject to checks.
“Labelling is one of the requirements of using the green lane, so if we don’t know how to label the products then we shouldn’t be using the green lane and would be subject to all the checks,” Opie told the BBC.
“You couldn’t run a commercial supermarket by running all of their trade through the red lane, it just wouldn’t work, the numbers wouldn’t stack up.”
Since labelling changes take months supermarkets need urgent clarity, he stressed.
Opie added that it is of major concern retailers do not know how to move food in a way that will be compliant, with some already looking at what will be possible to send to Northern Ireland from October.
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