Economy Minister Diane Dodds has called for urgent action from the UK Government on parcel deliveries to Northern Ireland.
The Minister said: “We are seeing significant confusion in the e-commerce market, both from businesses and consumers. This can be detrimental for consumers and mean that they may be more vulnerable to scams or have less choice in price and range of goods.
“To date, my officials and The Consumer Council have been responding to queries on this. The Consumer Council has also published helpful frequently asked questions for consumers.
“I now want to see action from UK Government aimed at businesses in GB to clarify the position as there is currently little understanding of this.
“I wrote to Cabinet Office Secretary Michael Gove on the issue last month and will continue to call for this to be addressed urgently.”
The UK government had announced a grace period for three months for deliveries to Northern Ireland. This means that until 1 April online retailers in GB will not have to make customs declarations when sending parcels to consumers. However, it is currently unclear what will happen after 1 April.
The Minister continued: “In terms of protecting consumers, I also want to see longer term solutions. The UK Internal Market Bill was passed at the end of last year to ensure that there was a functioning framework for the UK Internal Market. For most people the functioning of a UK Internal Market is most visible in e-commerce.
“The issues that impact NI consumers in this regard are reserved, I am thinking not only here of customs but of the responsibility for post and parcel markets. We now need to see action from UK Government on this.”