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Rishi Sunak was reportedly hoping Joe Biden’s Northern Ireland visit would help garner DUP support for his post-Brexit deal

US president Joe Biden has said that talks over Northern Ireland’s new Brexit deal were a “top priority” during his visit to Belfast.

Biden, who has previously said he “strongly” supported the Windsor Framework deal, arrived in Northern Ireland on Tuesday as he began a visit marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

When asked by reporters what his top priorities were during the trip, he said: “Make sure the Irish accord and the Windsor agreement stay in place to keep the peace, that’s the main thing.”

The US president was meant to be greeted by members of the Northern Ireland Assembly chamber coming together to celebrate the return of power sharing at Stormont after months of political disruption.

But at the time of Biden’s arrival in Belfast, the DUP’s Stormont boycott was still going strong – with Rishi Sunak’s post-Brexit deal continuing to be a major point of contention.

The Windsor agreement between the UK and the EU, which replaces the previous Northern Ireland protocol, is set to ease checks on goods being traded across the Irish Sea via a two-lane system.

GB goods meant to stay in NI take the ‘green lane’ and go through minimal checks, whilst goods headed south of the border to the EU single market take the ’red lane’ and go through a more rigorous checks process.

But there have been worries that the requirements attached to the so-called express lane will turn out very costly for traders as more details about how the framework will be implemented emerged.

Read more: Rishi Sunak ‘majorly oversold’ Windsor Framework, say food businesses

Several NI hauliers wrote to The Telegraph last week complaining that a recent meeting with the government highlighted the fact the green lane system was going to be more complex than previously thought due to a series of labelling requirements meant to help track goods.

“It is now clear that the ‘green lane’ is a complete misnomer due to its heavily fettered access,” the hauliers said. “At best, it’s a bureaucratic ‘express lane’; at worst, it’s something the Soviets would have dreamt up to control the supply chain.”

Defra officials and companies trading in Northern Ireland have started meeting weekly for the NI-GB Food Supply Chain Forum to address Windsor Framework concerns. The next session is due tomorrow, Thursday (13 April).

The Grocer understands tomorrow’s meeting will focus heavily on the possibility of having to label products differently depending on their end destination to make sure goods meant to stay in NI don’t make their way to Ireland and vice-versa.

These labelling requirements will apply to all sorts of food trading across the Irish Sea, from sausages to yoghurt.

However, this meant “extra warehouse space and stockholding, and overall increased complexity and cost”, one senior trade source said – an increased burden for a lot of British companies that have already been put off by the complexity of trading with NI for the past couple of years.

What the Windsor Framework really means for food businesses