BELFAST: The end of the Brexit transition period has forced a “difficult adjustment” on retailers in Northern Ireland, the industry said.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis maintained that empty supermarket shelves in Belfast this month were due to the UK variant of coronavirus, which saw Europe close its English Channel ports before Christmas.
The senior Cabinet member has argued that there is no Irish Sea border created by the Protocol and the shortages have nothing to do with the special EU divorce deal.
Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said: “There was certainly a knock on effect – the reality is that this new regime we have in relation to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland certainly has been a very difficult adjustment.”
The protocol means Northern Ireland follows the EU’s rules on matters like animal product standards to avoid a hard Irish border on the island.
Traders have faced a “challenging” period but are adapting to extra red tape created by the protocol, Roberts added. They are also attempting to source more products locally. He represents independent small and medium-sized firms, not large supermarket chains. He said: “We are confident we will get through it.” Some supermarket shelves were depleted this month as suppliers grappled with new rules surrounding sending goods from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland.
Source: The News