|Brexit border checks have been a contentious issue since the UK and European Union first sat down to negotiate divorce terms.
Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, suppliers of goods to the region from Britain must fill in customs declarations to ship goods there in order to avoid a border on the island of Ireland.
Westminster is determined to move away from this controversial deal.
New data from the taxman shows this may be possible. Analysis of HMRC data suggest at least 85 per cent of goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Britain remain in the region.
The research comes from a new database called the EU Access system, which provides real-time customs data and tracked the movement of a million goods that crossed the Irish Sea last year.
The data show just over 10,000 businesses sent goods worth more than £12.4 billion from Britain to Northern Ireland in 2021.
The UK wants to set up a new “green-lane and red-lane” system with separate rules for trucks headed for the Republic of Ireland to those staying in its northern neighbour.
Suppliers going through the green lane should be exempt from filling in customs declarations, which is a headache for businesses.
But is the data enough to convince Brussels that the UK has a plan to stop counterfeit goods being smuggled across the border? The jury is out.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, has said a deal on the Protocol was within reach if there was political will in the UK.
It also believes that the EU can live with an “express lane”. Officials believe proposals could reduce checks on lorries to just two or three a day.
Crucially, though, Brussels refuses to budge on red tape. It still wants businesses sending goods across the Irish sea to complete customs declarations.
While the volume of transactions across the Irish Sea was large, it represents just a fraction of the 78.3 million customs declarations submitted to HMRC for international trade last year. Of these, 34.3 million were for trade with the EU.