Windsor Framework – where’s the detail?

London, UK: Despite the overall welcome from business for the Windsor Framework to resolve Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade issues, most companies still have a raft of questions about how it will work, according to a survey by Logistics UK.

79% of those surveyed welcome the certainty and more than half agreed the deal would reduce administrative costs. But 47% are uncertain about operational details of the deal.

“The agreement is welcome news for our members who drive the NI supply chain with GB, Ireland and the rest of Europe,” says Nichola Mallon, head of trade and devolved policy, Logistics UK.

“Since the UK left the EU, our members in NI have experienced a period of prolonged uncertainty as the details of how to trade with our closest neighbours have been negotiated. When it comes to transporting goods from GB to NI in particular, the process has been protracted and added cost and time to journeys.

“Logistics UK has been pressing politicians for a new “green lane” arrangement which would ensure the smooth flow of trade between NI and GB, and the inclusion of this in the agreement will make trade movements between the two easier. More than 55% of our surveyed members agree that the new deal will reduce the administrative and cost burdens on trading between GB and NI, a reduction recognised by two thirds of those trading between NI and Ireland – all of which is excellent news for businesses in the logistics sector and for the wider NI economy,” Mallon say.

However, uncertainty still exists among the sector concerning operational details of the deal, with 47% of those surveyed uncertain or doubting the extent to which the agreement will deliver greater affordability for their businesses, and more than 31% concerned if the Framework will provide certainty, stability or simplicity for ongoing trading relationships, Mallon says.

“The Windsor Framework is a positive position from which to strengthen and grow NI’s trading relationships with both GB and the EU, which have been in limbo since the UK left the European Union. 72% of those businesses questioned which are not currently trading with NI agree that the Framework provides more stability and certainty for trade, while 40% of those surveyed confirmed they will be looking to re-establish trading links with NI,” Mallon says.

“This reinforces Logistics UK’s call for a targeted strategy with GB suppliers to re-establish and strengthen trade with NI. As with any agreement, the devil is in the detail, and we and our members stand ready to assist the government in co-designing the development and application of the implementation stage of this agreement, in a way that works for consumers, business and the NI and GB economies.”