The government has extended its support service for firms moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland for an additional year, it announced yesterday (2 October).

The Trader Support Service (TSS) was set up in 2020 to help traders comply with the new rules and customs obligations set out by the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Since being launched on 1 January 2021, over 47,000 traders have registered to use the service, which includes a free-to-use IT portal for submitting customs.

‘Great news for traders’

The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) is part of the consortium that has been hired by HMRC to run the TSS since 2020.

IOE&IT director general Marco Forgione welcomed the one-year extension, saying it had already played a vital role supporting trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

He said:

“We are delighted HMRC has confirmed the one-year extension of TSS as it has played a huge role in keeping goods moving into and out of Northern Ireland. This is great news for UK traders.

“TSS has kept consumer goods on shelves in the region and has even ensured key medical supplies – including emergency blood donations – have been delivered across the Irish Sea without delay. The IOE&IT is incredibly proud of the role it has played in making this happen.”

‘Comprehensive service’

In a statement announcing the extension, HMRC has said that it recognises the “comprehensive service” that TSS has provided over the past two years.

“The government is committed to ensuring traders are supported throughout 2023 to meet the requirements of moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including tailoring this support in response to the changes the government is seeking to make to the Northern Ireland Protocol,” it said.

Protocol issues

Since coming into force following the end of the transition period following Brexit, the Northern Ireland Protocol has becoming hotly contested, with the UK and EU disagreeing over the way it has been implemented.

The EU launched legal action against the UK in the summer after Liz Truss introduced legislation to Parliament that intends to override parts of the trading arrangement.

However, prominent Conservative politicians have this week indicated that the UK may be softening its stance in the negotiations, with Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker saying sorry to the UK and EU for his previous hard-line stance.

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