Flexible, frictionless trade between Northern Ireland (NI) and GB is vitally important to the continued success of its economy, according to the FTA, which has published key measures needed before Brexit concludes on 31 December.

Its Northern Ireland Protocol Policy Report outlines what needs to be done before the transition period ends, including early engagement with logistics and cutting red tape.

Seamus Leheny, FTA NI policy manager, said the protocol would put NI in the unique position of being able to trade freely with the UK and EU, while at the same time protecting all island supply chains on the Island of Ireland.

However, it was essential financial and practical barriers to this trade were removed.

Speaking to motortransport.co.uk, Leheny said he believed progress was being made on a critical shortage of Customs agents, but time was ticking away: “The minimisation of friction, red tape and costs for the industry, that’s the big one,” he said. “The financial and practical barriers.

“A lot of freight that comes in here is destined for the high street and retail.

“A typical lorry enters Belfast port from Liverpool and it’s not just carrying 16 pallets of baked beans, it’s got an average of 1,000 different product lines on that trailer.”

He added: “Without derogation, there will be multiple SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary agreements].

“That’s a big problem for us and also the retail trade.”