The European Union and the UK have agreed a trusted trader scheme that would mean exemptions from tariffs for up to 98% of goods flowing between Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1 January, according to RTÉ News.
The other 2% would potentially avail of rebates from any tariffs, it is understood. Tariffs would mostly only apply if no free trade agreement is concluded between the EU and UK.
Both sides have also agreed that agri-food products coming from Britain to Northern Ireland will be exempt from requiring export health certificates for a period of at least three months. These have proved the biggest concern for UK supermarket chains in Northern Ireland, who rely on large and mixed consignments of food coming from depots in Britain.
Export health certificates can cost up to £200 per product and need to be signed off by a designated veterinary inspector. It is understood the issue of how supermarkets will comply with EU food safety rules could be dealt with through a UK commitment, possibly a declaration, that it does not intend to change its food safety rules from 1 January.
Those rules at that point will still be the same as EU food safety rules. The trusted trade scheme would be subject to a review, or sunset clause, three-and-a-half years after the Protocol comes into effect, according to an internal EU briefing.
If the EU is not satisfied with the way the scheme is operating, it can trigger an emergency brake through the EU UK Joint Committee, which is tasked with implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Alternatively, the system could be tweaked rather than halted completely, depending on how it is operating, it is understood.
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