Businesses in Great Britain are considering pulling out of Northern Ireland because of the Brexit protocol, the agriculture minister warned.
Tens of thousands of pounds could be added to the cost of a lorry load of supermarket goods due to the measure designed to keep the country in line with EU rules, Edwin Poots added.
He said the cost of export health certificates could be very damaging as he appealed to the EU to remedy problems in the proposed system.
“We need the EU to work with the people of Northern Ireland in ensuring that Northern Ireland PLC is not damaged, that jobs are not damaged and consumers are not damaged.”
Additional checks on animal-based products entering the country from Great Britain are required under the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Treaty.
Officials have already warned that new buildings and infrastructure required to conduct the monitoring at ports and airports will not be ready by the end of December when the Brexit transition period ends.
Mr Poots said extra certification could inflate the cost of deliveries by supermarkets like Iceland, Asda, Sainsbury’s or Tesco.
“The consequence of it is that we will likely lose some of those businesses from Northern Ireland and consequential jobs lost, the consequential loss of, potentially, goods that are on the shelves that people want to buy.
“There are a lot of businesses in Great Britain talking about pulling out of the Northern Ireland market because of the protocol.
“The protocol as it stands is extremely damaging but it can be remedied should the EU cooperate with us in remedying it.”
Under the protocol, which is contained in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland will remain in the EU single market for goods when the transition period ends.
UK and EU negotiators are still trying to hammer out the details of how the protocol will operate amid efforts to minimise the checks required.