Small business fear an increase in cross border smuggling post Brexit

Small business owners have a expressed a fear that smuggling will increase post Brexit. Picture Mal McCann.

More than half of retailers in Northern Ireland are concerned about a rise in cross border criminality and blackmarket trade after Brexit, according to Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS).

The organisation, which represents over 3,000 small and medium sized Irish retailers, has warned businesses on both sides of the border are already struggling to compete with the illicit trade of smuggled products.

A recent summit held in Dublin attended by members of the Irish government, MLAs, An Garda Siochana, the PSNI and retailers from both sides of the border discussed the potential increase in smuggling post Brexit.

Whilst smuggling and illicit trading are not a new problem, a survey by RAS highlighted the very real economic impact smuggling is currently having on retailers and future fears.

The survey found that Brexit was increasing concerns, with almost 55 per cent of retailers in Northern Ireland saying they had recorded a noticeable increase in smuggling in recent years, and a further 44 per cent of their counterparts in the Republic declaring the same.

The survey also revealed a lack of trust in authorities on both sides of the border, with only 13 per cent of those surveyed having confidence in the ability of authorities to tackle smuggling.

Following the summit RAS have made a series of recommendations, including a moratorium on further excise increases, further resources for revenue to enhance their efforts to tackle smuggling and legislation to protect legitimate businesses from the illicit trade of alcohol, tobacco and solid fuel.

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