Brexit backstop alternatives sought by newly established business group

Following the launch last week of an expert advisory group looking at alternative arrangements to the Northern Ireland backstop, the government has convened a second group of businesses and trade unions to help support decision-making. The group will ensure work on alternative arrangements to help replace the Northern Irish backstop by the end of 2020 is informed by the views of those trading within the island of Ireland and across the Irish Sea.

Made up of cross-sector representatives from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, it is hoped the groups will ensure the views of businesses and their employees are represented in the process.

The new Business and Trade Union Alternative Arrangements Advisory Group will complement the work of the recently-established Technical Alternative Arrangements Advisory Group, which comprises trade and customs experts tasked with considering workable solutions to the backstop.

They will consider processes associated with the movement of goods across borders and options for simplifying them, such as trusted trader programmes and advanced use of data and IT systems.

Members of the business and trade union group have been chosen based on their backgrounds in cross-border supply chains. The group includes large companies who can represent the views of themselves and their suppliers, as well as smaller companies who rely on cross-border “just in time” supply chains. The government has made available £20 million of funding to support the development, testing or piloting of any ideas that emerge from the advisory groups.

The Business and Trade Union Alternative Arrangements Advisory Group will meet for the first time today. Members include:

• Aodhán Connolly, British Retail Consortium NI, Director
• John McGrane, British Irish Chamber of Commerce, Director General
• Dr Mike Johnston, Dairy Council for Northern Ireland, Chief Executive
• Seamus Leheny, Freight Transport Association NI, Policy Manager
• Angela McGowan, CBI NI, Director
• Karen Marshall, BoW Leather, Managing Director
• Aidan Gough, InterTradeIreland, Designated Officer and Director of Strategy and Policy
• Conall Donnelly, Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association, Executive Director
• David Nicholl, NC Engineering, Director
• Wilson Del Socorro, Diageo, Global Director of Public Affairs
• Wesley Aston, Ulster Farmers’ Union, Chief Executive
• Ian Hampton, Stena Line, Chief People, Communications and Sustainability Officer
• Marcus Wachtmeister, BMW Group UK, Head of Government Affairs
• Tom McGroder, Sensata Technologies (Schrader Electronics), Global Trade Compliance EU Regional Manager
• Clare Guinness, Warrenpoint Harbour, Chief Executive
• Owen Reidy, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Assistant General Secretary
• Dr Gerard O’Hare CBE, DL, Belfast Harbour, Board Member
• Craig Jones, General Electric, Director of Government Relations


Is your business ready for Brexit? This government tool aims to help you find out what your business or organisation may need to do to prepare for the UK leaving the EU; what’s changing in your industry and provides information on specific rules and regulations.

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