Stuart Anderson, Head of Public Affairs at the NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was speaking after the government announced that the first stage of the UK’s new 'Border Target Model', originally set for October, is now delayed to January 2024.
Mr Anderson says the new model governs importing goods into the UK from countries inside and outside the EU – and he welcomed the delay in implementing it.
“Businesses preparing for the initial implementation phase of the Windsor Framework on 1 October will breathe a sigh of relief that the timeframe for the GB Border Target Operating Model has been delayed until 2024," he said.
“Whilst further details are required, Northern Ireland’s agrifood businesses will also welcome that additional protections are proposed to qualify for unfettered access to the GB market. Upholding the twin objectives of preserving barrier free access to GB whilst protecting the integrity of Northern Ireland’s world-renowned produce will be critical.
Rules around the movement of food products are being altered after the food industry expressed concerns that goods made in other countries could simply have been relabelled as 'from Northern Ireland' to get unfettered access to GB.
As a result most goods that are in free circulation in NI will qualify for unfettered access to GB, however food and animal feed products will need to be owned or processed in NI by an NI registered business in order to qualify, the BBC reported.
UUP Brexit spokesman Steve Aiken said: "The implementation, or should we say, non-implementation on checks of food imports into England, Scotland & Wales, has demonstrated how unprepared the Conservative Government is on its hard Brexit.
"At the same time as further delaying checks they are pushing ahead with the red and green lanes on their imposed Irish Sea Border. Today we also saw publication of the ‘Border Target Operating Model’ laying out restrictions on trade within the United Kingdom, further confusing business. What will it take for a sensible approach to be at last taken, such as the one the UUP has been advocating for years?"