Blog: NIreland stores see empty shelves as Brexit trade rules bite – Fredericksburg.com


By JILL LAWLESS
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — The U.K.’s biggest supermarket chains warned Wednesday that food supplies in Northern Ireland face disruption because of new checks imposed by Britain’s departure from the European Union.

After photos emerged showing empty shelves, the chief executives of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Iceland, Co-Op and Marks & Spencer wrote to the government saying there would be “significant disruption” unless urgent action was taken to fix an “unworkable” system.

Britain left the economic embrace of the 27-nation bloc, the final stage of Brexit, at the end of 2020. A trade deal that took effect Jan. 1 allows Britain and the EU to trade in goods without quotas or tariffs.

But that is a far cry from the seamless, hassle-free trade the U.K. enjoyed while it was part of the EU’s single market. Companies face new expense and red tape, including customs declarations and border checks.

Northern Ireland remains closely tied to the bloc’s economy under the Brexit divorce terms in order to protect its open border with EU member Ireland. That means there are new checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K., including customs declarations for goods and export health certificates for animal-based food products.

A three-month grace period means some measures will not be imposed until April 1, but firms already say they are staggering under the burden of new paperwork.

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