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The end of checks on goods from GB to NI is part of a deal agreed between the DUP and the government to restore power-sharing to Stormont

British goods moving to Northern Ireland will face no routine checks under a new deal between the UK government and the Democratic Unionist Party that is set to restore power-sharing in Stormont, according to DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson.

The changes would apply to Great Britain goods that were meant to stay in Northern Ireland, meaning they would face no routine checks and customs paperwork, Donaldson said.

British goods heading to Northern Ireland via the Irish Sea currently use a green/red lane system under the Windsor Framework deal struck between the UK and the EU last year, which saw NI abide by the bloc’s single market laws for the production of food and agri-food.

The green lane is a fast-track route for British traders that minimises the friction created by Boris Johnson’s Northern Ireland protocol. However, it still requires businesses to produce some customs documentation and potentially be subjected to a small number of physical checks, which does not happen across the rest of the UK.

This added costs to businesses and effectively created a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, claimed the DUP.

The party has been boycotting Stormont’s power-sharing administration since February 2022 over different post-Brexit trading arrangements between London and Brussels.

The new deal, agreed on Tuesday between the unionists and the UK government, would see the green lane go, Donaldson said. “The border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be removed,” he added.

“For goods coming in from the UK, our objective was to remove the Irish Sea border and that is what we have achieved,” the DUP leader said during a BBC radio interview on Wednesday. 

“We’re no longer in a situation where if you bring goods in to sell in Northern Ireland, you need a customs declaration.”

Instead, Northern Ireland would be a part of “the UK internal market system – no custom checks, no regulations – you register to be part of that system to move those goods through that system”, he said.

“There will be a dataset which is in the truck – it is already supplied for VAT purposes – no paperwork involved.”

Read more: Northern Ireland DUP accepts post-Brexit deal but food industry demands detail

These changes will require an amendment to UK law, and will also need approval from the UK-EU Joint Committee, which oversees the Windsor Framework agreement.

The new rules are set out in a Command Paper, published by the government this afternoon. The government is expected to pass the legislation in parliament on Thursday.

“We have sought to ensure Northern Ireland is fully integrated in to the UK internal market to prevent that the diversion of trade,” Donaldson said.

“If you are unable to get your traditional supply of goods from your supplier in Great Britain you’re likely to look elsewhere perhaps to Dublin [instead of NI]. 

“Under these new arrangements, goods made at British standards can freely flow through to NI – this will prevent the diversion of trade.”

GB goods that are heading south of the border to the EU single market will continue to go through the red lane so as to ensure they comply with the bloc’s standards.

The EU has been involved in the discussions around the DUP’s deal with the government, the party confirmed. 

The UK-EU joint committee also reached a separate agreement on Tuesday to make changes to the framework, to allow Northern Ireland to benefit from UK free trade deals by cutting tariffs for food imports to NI.

This would “enable NI traders to benefit from our independent trade policy on key goods like New Zealand lamb and Australian beef”, said UK Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris.

The food industry has welcomed the DUP deal announcement, but traders have demanded clearer detail.

“It’s encouraging to hear that a new deal is on the table concerning freedom of trade between the UK and Northern Ireland”, said the British Frozen Food Federation.

“The complex border arrangements have caused a lot of stress and uncertainty for our members and we eagerly await further official announcements from the government.”

Michael Bell, executive director at Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, added: “As an industry supporting 113,000 jobs in local communities across Northern Ireland, we have always held the view that the best decision making we can have is through a functioning Northern Ireland Executive.

“We welcome the renewed impetus to restore the Stormont institutions, and are hopeful that after two years we will soon see ministers in place.

“From addressing the competitive disadvantage Northern Ireland food and drink companies face in terms of capital investment, to maximising the opportunity of our unique trading position, there is much work to be done to equip our industry to grow even further, and boost the local economy in the process.

“We look forward to engaging with our MLAs in the weeks and months ahead, to support fully informed decision making and address the challenges we collectively face.”