The Northern Ireland Protocol: Implications for Trade


Since it was first proposed, the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Brexit agreement, has been a source of controversy. The Protocol is intended to prevent a hard frontier between Northern Ireland and the EU member state of the Republic of Ireland. This is accomplished by establishing a regulatory and customs border in the Irish Sea, effectively incorporating Northern Ireland into the EU’s goods single market. This has significant implications for commerce, both within the United Kingdom and between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Alignment with EU rules and regulations

One of the most important things about the Northern Ireland Protocol is that it keeps Northern Ireland’s rules and laws for goods in line with those of the EU. This means that things coming from Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) must meet EU standards in order to enter Northern Ireland. Checks must be done to make sure this is the case. Businesses are worried that this will lead to more paperwork and costs, and that it could slow things down at the border.

Supporters of the Protocol say that it is important to keep the island of Ireland from having a hard border, which could hurt the peace process. They also say that it lets businesses in Northern Ireland keep trading easily with the EU, which is an important market for many businesses in Northern Ireland. Also, the Protocol includes a way for Northern Ireland to opt out of some EU rules if there is evidence that they hurt Northern Ireland’s economy.

De facto border within the UK

The Northern Ireland Protocol also has the effect of putting a real line between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. This is because things going from the UK to Northern Ireland have to go through customs checks and meet other rules. Unionists in Northern Ireland are worried about this because they think it makes Northern Ireland less important to the UK. They say that it makes it harder to trade within the UK and that companies in Northern Ireland could lose out to their rivals in the rest of the country.

Supporters of the Protocol say that it is needed to protect the Good Friday Agreement, which stopped decades of sectarian fighting in Northern Ireland. They say that there shouldn’t be a hard border on the island of Ireland because it could start the war all over again. They also say that Northern Ireland companies still have access to the UK market and that the Protocol has ways to protect Northern Ireland’s economy from any bad effects.

Uncertainty for businesses

Businesses are also worried about the Protocol because it is still not clear how it will be put into place. There have been delays in putting in place the infrastructure and processes needed to make trade easier under the Protocol. This has caused people to worry that supply lines could be interrupted.

Opportunities for businesses

Even though there are problems, there are also chances for companies. For instance, companies in Northern Ireland can keep trading freely with the EU, which is a big market for many of them. They can also take advantage of any new trade deals that the UK may make with other countries, even though the terms of these deals are still not clear.


In conclusion, the Northern Ireland Protocol has big effects on trade, both within the UK and between the UK and the EU. Since it was first suggested, it has caused a lot of trouble. People are worried about how it will affect businesses in Northern Ireland and how it could lead to a real border within the UK. But people who support the Protocol say it is important to stop a hard border on the island of Ireland because it could hurt the peace process.

The Protocol has also caused some uncertainty for businesses, but there are also ways for businesses to keep trading freely with the EU and possibly take advantage of new trade deals that have been negotiated.

If the Northern Ireland Protocol has hurt your business, get in touch with our team at YRF Accountants right away to talk about what you can do to make things better. Check out some of our other helpful pieces on our blogs for more news about the economy.