Ireland expects to reach a trade agreement with Northern Ireland in weeks.

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Ireland’s European Affairs Minister, Thomas Byrne, said late Thursday that the trade dispute between Britain and the European Union over Northern Ireland might be addressed in weeks, putting an end to economic uncertainty in the province.

“I believe that we have all of the tools at our disposal to have an agreement in relation to Northern Ireland within the coming weeks,” Byrne told reporters on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels.

He was reiterating remarks made by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a visit to Northern Ireland, who said the dispute needed to be settled “quite quickly” because it was harming people’s lives and businesses.

“I completely agree with the Prime Minister that this needs to be resolved very quickly. This is urgent. Northern Ireland urgently needs stability, urgently needs certainty as to its rules and regulations. And it urgently needs investment,” Byrne said.

Following complaints from businesses that the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol was impeding trade with the rest of the UK, the EU this week offered London a package of steps to facilitate the transit of products to the British-ruled province. Northern Ireland was essentially preserved in the EU’s customs union and single market for goods after Brexit thanks to the agreement.

Maros Sefcovic, vice- president of the European Commission, has refused to offer a specific deadline for the EU-UK talks to end, but has expressed a strong preference for them to end by the end of 2021.

Story by : Norvisi Mawunyegah