William Bain, Policy Advisor at British Retail Consortium Europe, suggests Britons will see the cost of goods imported from Ireland and Northern Ireland increase significantly, and called for an end to “brinkmanship and political games.”
Major UK retailers have warned a no-deal Brexit will lead to shortages of basic essentials and “unaffordable” price increases on consumer staples not merely in the UK, but Ireland too.
Retail chiefs have said adopting World Trade Organisation tariffs could increase the cost of food and drink by up to 45 percent, which will almost inevitably be passed on to customers, due to a combination of higher tariffs and new regulatory checks.
“Our supply chains are highly integrated, with food ingredients coming from both Ireland and the EU, 60 percent of Northern Ireland agri-food bound for Great Britain crosses the Irish sea via Dublin. This will affect the price of shopping in the Prime Minister’s constituency of Maidenhead in the same way as it will in Belfast or Dublin, with cost rises. No-deal would have devastating economic consequences, potentially jeopardizing years of positive economic development and integration across the islands of the UK and Ireland. It’s imperative this is avoided,” he said.
Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, added that a no-deal Brexit would “[bring] tariffs, customs processes, checks and costs which our industry, and Northern Ireland families in particular, cannot afford to absorb.”
“Our households already have half of the discretionary income of British households and less than those in the Republic of Ireland. A no-deal Brexit will hit us first and hit us hardest. This is not acceptable. A hard Brexit means a hard border and the disintegration of supply chains that have been built up over 40 years of EU membership. This is not a binary choice for Northern Ireland between trade with the UK and trade with the EU,” Connolly explained.
Thomas Burke of Retail Ireland claimed a no deal departure would have highly deleterious economic consequences for the UK — but irrespective of which if any Brexit deal eventually emerges, UK retailers “will see an increase in operating costs arising from checks at ports and other supply chain disruption.”
“In the current operating environment, additional costs simply cannot be absorbed and will have to be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Our members continue to work hard to plan for all possible eventualities, but the ongoing uncertainty is damaging our industry and impacting customers,” he explained.