Retail bodies warns of 'devastating' no-deal Brexit

Northern Ireland Retail Consortium director, Aodhán Connolly has warned a no-deal Brexit will hit Northern Ireland hardest
Gareth McKeown

A NO-deal Brexit would hit Northern Ireland households hardest, a leading retail body has warned.

With less than 40 days until the UK leaves the European Union, Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, together with his counterparts in Britain and Ireland have shared their concerns that a no-deal Brexit will squeeze household budgets and lead to reduced availability of some goods.

"A no-deal Brexit brings tariffs, customs processes, checks and costs which our industry, and Northern Ireland families in particular, cannot afford to absorb," Mr Connolly said.

"Our households already have half of the discretionary income of British households and less than those in the Republic of Ireland. A no-deal Brexit will hit us first and hit us hardest. This is not acceptable."

"A hard Brexit means a hard border and the disintegration of supply chains that have been built up over 40 years of EU membership. This is not a binary choice for Northern Ireland between trade with the UK and trade with the EU. Our economy is built on access to both markets and we need that to survive. No-deal makes Northern Ireland a less competitive place to do business and a more expensive place to live," he added.

The Northern Ireland Retaill Consortium, Retail Ireland and the British Retail Consortium have highlighted how increased tariffs and new regulatory checks would lead to increases in the cost of making fresh food and drink available to consumers. These tariffs could see increases of up to 45 per cent on some everyday food items should the UK and EU27 revert to World Trade Organisation Most Favoured Nation Tariffs.

While these could be the top line tariffs, there are also concerns regarding the cost implications of non-tariff barriers such as checks and delays.

Thomas Burke of Retail Ireland said a no-deal Brexit would have "devastating" economic consequences and must be avoided.

"However, regardless of the type of Brexit agreed over the coming weeks, retailers will see an increase in their operating costs arising from checks at ports and other supply chain disruption," Mr Burke said

"In the current operating environment, these additional costs simply cannot be absorbed and will have to be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

"Our members continue to work hard to plan for all possible eventualities, but the ongoing uncertainty is damaging our industry and impacting our customers."

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