The UK and EU have confirmed a set of arrangements which will ensure partners of the Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) have access to UK tariff rate quotes on meat products.

The Government said that the deal will “significantly benefit Northern Ireland businesses”.

The solution follows months of engagement with businesses and is a milestone in implementing the Government’s commitments to Northern Ireland’s prosperity under the Safeguarding the Union command paper published in February. The new arrangements will be available alongside the new UK Internal Market system from 30th September 2024.

Northern Ireland businesses will now be able to access the same benefits and opportunities as the rest of the UK, while “maintaining sufficient protection” for farmers.

Government said the new quota regime “addresses a key problem with the old Protocol”, where businesses exporting their goods could benefit from UK Free Trade Agreements but those importing higher tariff products like meat into Northern Ireland could not benefit from UK trading arrangements.

Minister of State for the Northern Ireland Office Steve Baker said: “This major milestone illustrates the UK Government’s commitment to maximising trade and opportunities for Northern Ireland’s businesses.

“This unique arrangement will mean NI importers will be able to benefit from UK Free Trade Agreements, further cementing Northern Ireland’s place in the UK. I look forward to our further work to safeguard the Union.”

Director general of the Provision Trade Federation (PTF) said: “Extending the scope of the already agreed trade deals with NZ/AUS to Northern Ireland in the context of the Windsor Framework does put the whole of the UK on an equal footing with respect to these tariff quotas.

“PTF welcomes fair competition through free trade, as it encourages UK producers to perform even better than they already do. We do not, however, condone aspects of those deals where they consistently disadvantage our farmers and processors on price or quality.”