Northern Ireland shortages owing to border issues

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NORTHERN Ireland is experiencing food supply shortages because suppliers in Great Britain, including seed potato suppliers, are unaware of the Brexit-related paperwork needed to send goods to the region.

A statement on the gov.uk website reminds those involved in the supply chain: "You must notify the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) if you intend to import seed potatoes into Northern Ireland. You must do this for all seed potatoes imported from outside Northern Ireland, including Scotland and the Republic of Ireland."

Trucks are being stopped at Northern Ireland ports owing to a lack of customs-related paperwork, resulting in disruptions to the country's food supply. The uncertainty over a no-deal Brexit over Christmas and the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic are believed to have led to some businesses being caught out by the new customs regulations.

David Howorth, Executive Director at SCALA, a provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector, said: "Whilst it has been clear for some time as to how Northern Ireland would operate in terms of the UK and EU, the finer details of how these new customs checks would work only became entirely clear in the weeks leading up to January 1st so this confusion seems understandable.

“Beyond the initial disruption, it may be that some businesses may have to reevaluate and redesign their entire logistics solutions when supplying the region."

David said some UK mainland businesses may choose to withdraw from servicing the market entirely. 

"This could have a significant impact for the country’s supplies of FMCG products but equally could see openings in the market as companies potentially remove their service to Northern Ireland entirely," he said.

“It is essential that businesses consider these changing regulations and treat Northern Ireland as a member of the EU when implementing their logistics strategy. Businesses can also make use of the Government’s free of charge Trader Support Service to ensure they are up-to-date and that their drivers have the correct documentation to deliver to the region, without contributing to the severe delays we are currently witnessing.”

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