Arlene Foster said a Swiss agreement on agricultural and food supplies to Northern Ireland would only partially resolve the post-Brexit trade disruption.
The party leader and Prime Minister of the Democratic Union in Stormont said that while the deal could address animal and phytosanitary issues, it would not facilitate the new customs routine related to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Ms. Foster said the only sustainable way to address issues related to the protocol is to get rid of it altogether.
Your comments came ahead of a series of meetings held on Thursday where the European Union and the UK Government will seek views from traders and other civil society representatives in Northern Ireland on the impact of new trade agreements in the Irish Sea.
The Swiss model was proposed to ease disruptions in shipping from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
Under the provisions of the protocol that guaranteed free flow across the island of Ireland, the area remained a single market for goods.
This means that products entering the region from the UK must meet strict EU animal and plant health regulations.
Merchants are now required to commit to a range of new procedures and controls for shipping animal and plant-based foods across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland.
The EU’s agreement with Switzerland avoids such controls, as the Swiss bring their animal and phytosanitary regulations into line with mass laws.
When the European Union changes its rules, the Swiss change their rules to ensure that consensus continues.
Ms. Foster emphasized that the protocol covers more than just animal and plant health controls.
She stressed that companies also have to comply with the new declaration requirements as Northern Ireland has to enforce EU customs regulations in its ports.
The DUP chief stated that customs data will be required for packages sent from the UK to NI from April.
“The Swiss-style agreement of course only deals with one aspect of the protocol, it only deals with SPS (hygiene and phytosanitary) controls and only when the whole of the UK is ready to join the European Union,” she said. .
“So it’s not really about all of the other parcel-related issues and business and all of these other issues. So it is only part of the solution and only if the UK government buys the entire UK targeting.
“What is really important to us is a long-term solution, a permanent solution to the problems we are currently facing.”
The log is not yet fully functional as it goes through a series of grace periods that limit the number of certificates and declarations required to move goods.
These exceptions will expire in various places in the coming weeks and months.
The Ulster Federal Party, which is also fighting to abolish the protocol, has spoken out in favor of a Swiss-style deal to cut red tape that will worsen dramatically when the grace period for supermarket goods expires in early April.
Both the DUP and UUP are calling for action in the face of growing anger between trade unionists and Northern Irish loyalists over the economic obstacles Brexit has created between the region and the rest of the UK.
UUP boss Steve Aiken called on all five major Stormont parties to join forces to call for a cut in operations related to the shipping of agricultural food.
He said there was no contradiction in supporting a Swiss deal while organizing a campaign to end the protocol.
“One of the things we have to do is look at all we can do to cut it down. If there is any form of agricultural product recognition, it means that much of the Irish Sea border has disappeared. So why? ”Don’t you want to support that? “, he said. BBC Radio Ulster.
“Let’s put Northern Ireland first because that’s where the real impact lies – it’s for our consumers, it’s for our agribusiness.”
NI Retail, the body representing small retailers in Northern Ireland, said the grace period should be extended.
UK Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove has asked the European Commission to grant an extension until January 2023 to make room for solutions.
Glenn Roberts, CEO of Retail NI, told Stormont’s infrastructure committee that it was a burden for the UK and the EU to show flexibility.
“It’s not just about extending these grace periods just for them and kicking the can down the street,” he said.
“We need long-term solutions to these challenges.”
Earlier, Minister for Democratic Federal Economy Diane Dodds had said she would not reject a Swiss-style agreement as a “short-term” reform.
But she wondered if the government would sign such an agreement.
Ms. Dodds, a longtime supporter of Brexit, said such an agreement would result in Britain being a “slave” to EU rules.
However, she added, “I am not against anything that would bring comfort in the short term. I’m not against a Swiss style deal per se. ”
The minister said such an agreement would mean that the whole of the UK would have to comply with EU animal health and plant safety rules.
“I didn’t think the government could handle it,” she told BBC Radio Ulster.
“Even if this government deals with it, another government may not be working with it.”