How will the Ir­ish bor­der work af­ter Brexit?

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - By Niall Harkin, Chair­man of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants Ul­ster So­ci­ety

Brexit is a di­vi­sive is­sue, but one thing most agree with is that the re­turn of a hard bor­der on the is­land of Ire­land would be harm­ful to busi­ness and could cre­ate havoc for many peo­ple liv­ing in bor­der re­gions.

The UK, the EU and the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land all want to avoid a re­turn of a hard bor­der, but so far not much has been put for­ward in terms of a work­able so­lu­tion.

So what will our bor­der look like af­ter Brexit? Maybe some of the ex­ist­ing bor­ders be­tween EU and non-eu coun­tries can give us a clue. Nor­way/swe­den bor­der Swe­den is in the EU, Nor­way isn’t. But Nor­way is a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Eco­nomic Area, which means that it’s part of the EU’S sin­gle mar­ket. This means that Nor­way en­joys free move­ment of goods, cap­i­tal, peo­ple and ser­vic- es, but there are cus­toms checks at the bor­der.

The bor­der be­tween Nor­way and Swe­den is more than 1,600km long and there are 10 of­fi­cial cross­ing points for cus­toms pur­poses. Lor­ries go through cus­toms once, gen­er­ally. At the main bor­der, in Svi­ne­sund, an av­er­age of 1,300 HGVS pass through ev­ery day. Tech­nol­ogy is used at the bor­der, which means that lor­ries only gen­er­ally stop once and cus­toms of­fi­cials in both coun­tries work to­gether.

Re­ports show that the av­er­age wait time from when a lorry ar­rives at the bor­der to when it clears cus­toms is 20 min­utes. Switzer­land/france bor­der France is in the EU, Switzer­land isn’t. Switzer­land is part of the sin­gle mar­ket, but is not in a cus­toms union with the EU. This means that Switzer­land’s reg­u­la­tions in terms of prod­uct qual­ity and stan­dards are fully aligned with EU rules, thereby re­duc­ing qual­ity con­trol checks at the bor­der.

The bor­der be­tween Switzer­land and France is more than 500km long, and there are cus­toms con­trols in the form of physi- cal in­fra­struc­ture at sev­eral points along the bor­der. Some are only open at cer­tain times (ie Mon­day to Fri­day) to re­ceive dec­la­ra­tions and oth­ers are no longer manned.

The av­er­age wait for a lorry car­ry­ing goods is re­ported to range from 20 min­utes to two hours. Tur­key/bul­garia bor­der Bul­garia is in the EU, Tur­key isn’t. Tur­key is in a cus­toms union with the EU, which means that cer­tain goods can cross from Tur­key to the EU and vice versa with­out cus­toms du­ties aris­ing. Tur­key is not in the sin­gle mar­ket, so there is no free move­ment of ser­vices, peo­ple or cap­i­tal. There are also re­stric­tions on sev­eral types of goods, in­clud­ing agri­cul­tural prod­ucts.

Be­cause Tur­key is not in the sin­gle mar­ket, sev­eral reg­u­la­tions and EU stan­dards need to be ad­hered to and checked be­fore goods are al­lowed into the EU.

There­fore, there is a need for traders to have cer­tain doc­u­men­ta­tion ready at the bor­der, in­clud­ing ex­port li­cences, in­voices and trans­port per­mits.

The bor­der is around 270km and there are three des­ig­nated cross­ing points for cus­toms pur­poses. Ad­di­tional doc­u­men­ta­tion is re­quired and long de­lays at the bor­der are nor­mal. There are re­ports of waits rang­ing from three hours to in ex­cess of 24 hours in or­der to clear cus­toms. Is tech­nol­ogy the an­swer? If the UK leaves the sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union, it is dif­fi­cult to en­vis­age how a hard bor­der can be avoided on the is­land of Ire­land.

Re­gard­less of whether tar­iffs ap­ply, cus­toms checks are still go­ing to need to hap­pen in most sce­nar­ios.

Tech­nol­ogy can im­prove wait times at the bor­der, but it is im­por­tant to note that it can­not get rid of bor­ders al­to­gether. Trusted trader schemes, where fast-track cus­toms clear­ance op­tions are avail­able to cer­tain traders, can also help, but again they can­not get rid of bor­ders.

Look­ing at the op­tions, it’s hard for busi­ness to take com­fort that op­er­a­tions won’t be more chal­leng­ing af­ter Brexit. Get­ting some clear ad­vice from the Govern­ment, and a voice for busi­ness from our lo­cal politi­cians, would be a good place to start.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.