‘Big Principles’ Could Preserve UK Trade Links

28 Nov 2017 | 08.23 am

‘Big Principles’ Could Preserve UK Trade Links

British Irish Chamber of Commerce Brexit report

28 Nov 2017 | 08.23 am

The British Irish Chamber of Commerce has come up with a set of ‘big principles’ which, it says, could eliminate the need for a border on the island of Ireland and addresses concerns about border and customs checks at UK ports after the UK leaves the European Union.

The Chamber drew up its document after extensive consultation among its nine sectoral policy committees and external stakeholders over many months, and says that it provides a “politically ambitious but technically achievable solution to the trade issue”.

Its major proposal is for the UK and EU to form a new ‘Customs Arrangement’ which would eliminate the need for a border with Northern Ireland and alleviate concerns about customs checks at UK ports. “It would also best serve the interests of those trading in the UK, Ireland and the EU, while limiting the number of compromises required from the British Government or the EU,” the Chamber commented.

The key objectives of the ‘Big Principles for a Strong Brexit Partnership’ include:

  • A trade relationship between the UK and the EU that is effectively borderless (including in Ireland and at UK ports) and free from tariff and non-tariff barriers and enabling trade in both goods and services
  • An alignment of the UK’s tariffs with the established Common External Tariff and continued regulatory alignment, both to maintain standards and protect the UK and the EU from an influx of cheaper, lower quality goods which would endanger citizen safety in manufacturing and food production
  • A solution to the island of Ireland border issue and protection of the Good Friday Agreement
  • Pursuit of new global trade deals that are mutually beneficial
  • Ability for the UK to set out its own migration policy
  • An alternative model to the CJEU for dispute settlement, just as in other EU trade deals.

Director-general John McGrane said: “These Big Principles are being put forward as a positive contribution to the debate on the future of the EU-UK trading relationship. Both parties in the negotiations have spoken of their desire to find a deal that protects the open border on the island of Ireland and this paper offers a possible solution to this challenge. It also seeks to ensure that UK-Irish trade is not unduly undermined by the Brexit process but rather encouraged to grow after we get through this difficult phase.”

Chamber president Eoin O’Neill added: “Both Michel Barnier and Prime Minister May have spoken of their hope to have a close and strong trading relationship post-Brexit. What we are providing here is a basis for this, which we expect to be debated and constructively challenged, but which we ultimately hope will facilitate movement towards the detailed work required to establish the foundation for a strong post-Brexit relationship.”

The full text of the Big Principles is available from the BICC website.


Photo: Katie Daughen, Head of Brexit Research and Support Services, BICC, with chamber president Eoin O’Neill and director general John McGrane (right). (Pix: Peter Houlihan/Paul Sherwood Photography)

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