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Ireland relaxes Brexit red tape as UK firms brace for 'significant' border disruption

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
Officials check freight from Scotland as truckers disembark a ferry at the Port of Larne in County Antrim, Northern Ireland on January 1, 2021, as a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK began operating at 23:00 GMT on December 31, 2020. - In Northern Ireland, the border with Ireland will be closely watched to ensure movement is unrestricted - key to a 1998 peace deal that ended 30 years of violence over British rule as Britain on Friday began a new year and life outside the European Union after leaving the bloc's single market. (Photo by PAUL FAITH / AFP) (Photo by PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images)
Officials check freight from Scotland as truckers disembark a ferry at the Port of Larne in County Antrim, Northern Ireland on January 1, 2021, as a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK began operating at 23:00 GMT on December 31, 2020. Photo: Paul Faith / AFP via Getty Images

Ireland is temporarily easing Brexit customs checks on imports from Great Britain after hauliers and firms warned of goods shortages and gaps on supermarket shelves.

The Brexit red tape has also caused issues for shipments into Northern Ireland, despite government assurances that there would be no border down the Irish Sea.

Hauliers in the country have said they were “overwhelmed” with the paperwork.

It comes as senior minister Michael Gove warned UK businesses to brace for “significant disruption” at ports. Gove said on Friday that disruption at Britain's border had not been "too profound" yet.

He especially warned on the impact at the French border. "It is the case that in the weeks ahead, we expect that there will be significant additional disruption — particularly on the Dover-Calais route," the cabinet minister said.

Britain which officially left Europe in January 2020 had been trading on EU terms up until 31 December last year.

The UK clinched a last-minute Brexit agreement with the bloc on Christmas Eve, which will see tariff-free and quota-free trading between the pair.

Under the agreement, food and goods imported into the UK from third countries and then shipped to the EU will face charges. The deal also introduces new customs checks and paperwork at the border.

Several companies have been hit by the disruption only one week into the new arrangements.

Parcel delivery firm DPD said on Friday that it is suspending its road delivery services to Europe, including to Ireland due to Brexit.

READ MORE: DPD stops delivering UK parcels to EU due to Brexit

The Government has promised to “redouble” efforts to inform traders of the paperwork required now that the UK is outside of EU rules.

But, Britain’s opposition party has said that the government’s new system has left companies wrangling.

Speaking on the DPD and other firms pausing deliveries, Labour’s shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rachel Reeves, said: “This government said it was prepared for a smooth transition — but instead major carriers like DPD are left wrangling with completely overwhelmed systems without any help.

“As well as consumers, this impacts on British companies large to small – from carriers like DPD to the many small, independent businesses already under such huge strain trying to sell across Europe.

“This government seems to prefer throwing taxpayer money at expensive consultants over listening to experienced businesses and offering them the practical, common sense support they need – like a helpline that functions when they’re operating.

“This government can talk the talk, but clearly can’t walk the walk when it comes to supporting British businesses.”

However, the troubles don’t stop there. Similar warnings have also been issued by high street retailers.

Marks and Spencer (MKS.L) on Friday said the UK’s new free trade agreement with the EU will “significantly” impact its business in Ireland and franchises in the EU.

The retailer said its business in Ireland and the Czech Republic and franchises in France would suffer due to tariffs on goods exported to the EU and “very complex administrative processes.” The firm said it was “actively working to mitigate” the impact.

Other retailers are reportedly weighing their options. On Thursday, struggling department store Debenhams took the decision to shut its Irish website due to the impact of the trade deal. John Lewis has also stopped serving Ireland.

WATCH: Michael Gove warns of 'significant disruption' at border over Brexit