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Brexit Weekly Digest - 16 April

This week we focus on border control; how the UK and Northern Ireland governments are progressing temporary posts, and how you can join the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce UK border control and Northern Ireland protocol masterclass. Plus, we look at new key export figures, and how UK consumers are being affected by charges.

Northern Ireland sea border: Border control posts must progress 'without delay'

UK Agriculture Secretary, George Eustice, has communicated to his Northern Ireland counterpart, Edwin Poots, the urgency of progressing new border control posts (BCPs). BCPs at ports are used to check imported products as a requirement of the EU exit. Stormont’s BPCs are currently temporary facilities; however the EU and UK government has said work must begin on permanent premises.

The BBC reports that the letter from Mr Eustice to Mr Poots asks for progress “without delay”.

 

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Bitesize Session – New Rules: UK Border Control & NI Protocol

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) are hosting a series of free online masterclass providing support and advice to businesses trading internationally. The next event will take place 22 April, looking over the new UK Border Control with the EU and the Northern Ireland protocol, including key new considerations for trading. Register to join here.

Other sessions in the series are:

 

UK exports to Ireland partially recover

Trade between the UK and Ireland partially recovered in February, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Figures show a 38% increase of UK exports to Ireland in February 2021, compared to January 2021. However, this is still a 7% decrease compared to February 2020.

There are several factors contributing to the decline, such as stockpiling in December 2020, COVID-19 restrictions causing hospitality food trade to close, and the introduction of new trading rules. An ONS spokesperson told the BBC “Exports to the EU recovered significantly from their January fall, though still remain below 2020 levels."

 

UK consumers need clear idea of cost of EU purchases, Which? says

Consumer group Which? has carried out a survey surrounding the customs charges facing UK consumers. The findings show that 1 in 10 people who had shopped online between 1 January and 16 February “had been asked to pay additional handling or delivery fees”. Furthermore, among those affected, the average charge was £41, but some had reported paying up to £300.

Which? had also seen an increase in scam texts, putting people at risk of bank account hacking and money being stolen. Reports from The Times show how fraudsters are taking advantage of consumers’ uncertainty over post-Brexit import charges, by impersonating Royal Mail and asking for payment to cover customs fees. The Royal Mail and banks such as Barclays and Monzo, have shared posts raising awareness of such scams.

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