New laws to ensure businesses can trade freely between all four parts of the UK at end of transition period

New laws approved this week will ensure that no “harmful barriers” will be imposed on trade between the four parts of the UK at the end of the Brexit transition period, it has been announced.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the UK Internal Market Act, which received Royal Assent on Thursday, will “protect businesses, jobs and livelihoods”.

According to the Government, the bill will allow businesses to continue to trade “seamlessly” across all four parts of the UK after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, as they do currently.

Under the UK Internal Market Act, two principles will be established that apply to all goods and services flowing between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

These include the “principle of mutual recognition”, which will ensure that regulations from one part of the UK are recognised by all, and the “principle of non-discrimination”, which will support all companies trading in the UK by “preventing unreasonably discriminatory regulation”.

A new regulatory department, the Office for the Internal Market (OIM), will also be established in 2021 to monitor the principles.

Commenting on the announcement, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Businesses and government have been crystal clear that we must protect the integrity of our internal market which has allowed us to trade freely between all four parts of the UK for centuries, as we seize new opportunities outside the confines of EU law.

“Today’s law will ensure businesses can continue trading unhindered from 01 January, while upholding the UK’s world-leading standards in food, the environment and workers’ rights, protecting jobs and helping us build back better from the pandemic.”

The laws come after the Government launched the UK Trade Scheme (UKTS) this week. According to policymakers, the new initiative will ensure that UK traders do not pay international tariffs on the movement of goods into Northern Ireland where those goods “remain in the UK’s customs territory”.

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