Business groups have said they are ‘hopeful’ that a deal can be reached between the UK and EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol, following a meeting with Liz Truss.
The Foreign Secretary, who visited Northern Ireland on Thursday, expressed his determination to secure a deal on the protocol that can enjoy universal support in Northern Ireland.
Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said he was “encouraged” after meeting Ms Truss.
He said he was “hopeful that an agreement to resolve the challenges related to the Northern Ireland Protocol is achievable”.
The visit came amid continued warnings from the main unionist party, the DUP, that it will quit the devolved institutions at Stormont if major changes to trade deals on the Irish Sea border are not quickly secured.
Ms Truss said: ‘What I want is a deal that works for everyone. We are progressing. We have constructive discussions.
“I want to make meaningful progress by February. It’s important, but it’s important that we get the support of all communities in Northern Ireland, including the Unionist community.”
Mr Roberts said his group had presented Ms Truss with “a number of case studies illustrating the problems experienced by local independent retailers in trading with UK-based suppliers as a result of the NI Protocol”.
He added: “It is essential that this issue is resolved to ensure that consumers receive the full range of products in Northern Ireland.
“We need a long-term sustainable agreement that provides stability, certainty and affordability for the wider business community in Northern Ireland.
“Continuing to ensure full access to the EU single market is essential as part of any agreement.”