Northern Ireland’s hybrid trade regime: an examination of the relationship between the Ireland-Northern Ireland Protocol and the UK’s post-Brexit trade agreements

Billy Melo Araujo*, Dylan Wilkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The Ireland-Northern Ireland Protocol has been one of the most contentious aspects of the EU-UK post-Brexit trade relationship. By requiring the UK to comply with EU customs and internal market rules in relation to Northern Ireland (NI), the Protocol has created a hybrid trade regime where NI is subject to multiple, overlapping and often conflicting rules. This paper aims to examine one area in which this hybridity manifests itself. It focusses on the interplay between the Protocol and post-Brexit UK trade agreements. It examines potential areas of conflict between Protocol obligations and obligations derived from UK trade agreements. In doing so, it sheds light on the extent to which compliance with the Protocol may undermine NI’s ability to export and import goods under the preferential terms negotiated under UK trade agreements. It further discusses the consequences of these incompatibilities between the Protocol and these agreements for NI and, more widely, the functioning of the UK internal market as whole.

Design/methodology/approach: Doctrinal legal research 

Findings: The paper examines potential areas of conflict between Protocol obligations and obligations derived from UK trade agreements. In doing so, it sheds light on the extent to which compliance with the Protocol may undermine NI’s ability to export and import goods under the preferential terms negotiated under UK trade agreements. It further discusses the consequences of these incompatibilities between the Protocol and these agreements for NI and, more widely, the functioning of the UK internal market as whole. 

Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge this is the first paper carrying out a comprehensive legal analysis of the interaction and potential conflicts between the Protocol on Ireland-Northern Ireland and the UK’s post Brexit trade agreements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-58
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of International Trade Law and Policy
Volume23
Issue number1
Early online date10 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 05 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited.

Keywords

  • Brexit
  • EU-UK withdrawal agreement
  • Free trade agreements
  • Protocol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • General Economics,Econometrics and Finance
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law

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