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The Economy Minister Diane Dodds has reiterated her call for businesses to check their preparedness for the end of the transition period.

This morning the Minister joined the agendaNi Annual Northern Ireland Economic Conference. Speaking after the online conference the Minister said: “We must do all we can to be ready for the end of the year but also be ready to respond to emerging issues that arise from January 2021. I realise that many businesses are facing difficulties due to the ongoing talks between the EU and the UK. We do need clarity on a number of issues including most importantly the terms of trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

It is my hope that both our national government and the EU would recognise the need for flexibility in coming months. I am also calling for a grace period for Northern Ireland businesses at the end of the transition period as a common sense and fair approach to the changing trading circumstances.”

Later in the day the Minister took part in the keynote address recorded for a webinar event today organised by InterTradeIreland entitled ‘Managing Brexit together: trading goods cross-border’.

The event provided practical advice to small and medium sized businesses, advised them to take action and reminded businesses of the range of supports on offer.

InterTradeIreland’s quarterly All-island Business Monitor shows that at the end of Q3, just 9% of firms in Northern Ireland had a plan in place for the end of the Transition period.

The Minister said: “While the UK as a whole is leaving the European Union, the Northern Ireland Protocol means that businesses in Northern Ireland can continue to trade in goods across the border with ease.

“There are of course also changes ahead for Northern Ireland firms as they adjust to the new trading relationships between the UK and the EU. The aim is to make the changes as seamless as possible for firms so that they are able to continue to benefit from the trading relationships and markets that have built up over time.”

The Minister added: “Even for those firms who do not consider themselves importers or exporters, it is important to take the time to more thoroughly consider your supply chains. Speak to your buyers and suppliers to understand their preparedness, and the impact of market access changes on those purchases and sales.”