However, the research by Manufacturing NI found that only 19% of manufacturers want the NI Protocol replaced entirely.
Manufacturing is the area thought to be most ripe for the ‘best of both worlds’ benefits from Northern Ireland having access to the UK and EU markets, but the survey – which drew 355 online responses last week – found widespread problems, some of which have already been resolved but others which are likely to persist.
Some 56% of respondents to the survey said that they had made significant plans to prepare for Brexit but were suffering either some or a significant negative impact on their business.
The survey found that three quarters of businesses either experienced no problems, are now on top of problems, or expect current problems to ease. Manufacturing NI said that those companies reporting a limited negative impact “are likely to be through the worst of the disruption”.
However, more than a quarter of businesses said that they had suffered significant problems and almost a quarter of companies said they are “struggling significantly” with new processes and do not expect their problems to ease.
Three quarters of companies said that their GB suppliers were either unprepared for the new system, unable to cope with it, or unwilling to supply Northern Ireland.
As a result, a quarter of companies have already re-oriented their business to buy locally or from the EU rather than from GB.
The business group said that some of the fault lay with the government, which had imposed much of the new border without adequate preparation or notice.
It warned that “it is likely that other, as yet unseen, challenges will be uncovered – so it is essential that the NI Executive, UK Government and the EU commit to continuing to vigilant, pragmatic determined to provide solutions.”
It said that “the absence of detail and time, uncertainty on our status and that of our goods, and political instability all contributed to a month of turbulence”.
Bizarrely, the new rules mean that raw materials from the EU which have travelled into GB cannot easily move to NI because the EU deems them “at risk” of entering its single market.
Manufacturing NI said: “This is a perverse outcome…[which] even those with significant experience in Rules of Origin, are struggling to comprehend”.
The new arrangements have meant that “the UK’s position as a European centre of distribution is under stress”, Manufacturing NI said.
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