Britain is reportedly close to clinching a deal with the European Union over the Northern Ireland border, a step that would pave the way for Brussels to offer a two-year Brexit transition deal as early as January. As Laura Frykberg reports, avoiding a so-called ''hard border'' on the island of Ireland is the last major hurdle before Brexit talks can move to negotiations on Britain's future trade relationship with the EU.
This serene looking stretch of land... Bordering the UK's Northern Ireland - and the EU's Irish Republic... Has proved a contentious issue...Throughout Brexit negotiations. Now though, a sign of a possible breakthrough. The Times newspaper reporting London and Brussels are closer to agreement on its fate... After Britain leaves the bloc. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CCLA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "if you have a porous and open border people can come from the EU in the UK and that obviously needs to be addressed. And equally the regulatory arbitrage that can occur between different zones is very tricky in an open border environment so I certainly anticipate that those issues will have to be addressed." Avoiding a so-called hard border.. here is key to local businesses. They currently enjoy free movement of goods and people. If that were to end and world trade tariffs instated.. Some estimate cross border trade could be reduced by as much as 8 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CONOR McKENNA, HEAD GOLF PROFESSIONAL, CONCRA WOOD GOLF COURSE, SAYING; "We have 14-thousand visitor rounds per year that come to the golf course - you'd certainly say there's at least 7 thousand of those are from the north then the rest are obviously the Republic of Ireland and parts of Europe as well. So none of us want a hard border - but we're all put in a situation where none of us know now what's going to happen." The UK government says it's under no illusion... Of the importance of avoiding a hard border. (SOUNDBITE) (English) James Brokenshire BRITAIN'S NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY SAYING: "The Prime Minister has been very clear in saying that as we leave the European Union we leave the single markets and we leave the customs union. But we need to know that there needs to be specific outcomes to meet the unique circumstance of Northern Ireland and Ireland as a whole." Whatever deal is made for island of Ireland... The British government knows its needs to keep those north of the border happy. It only has a majority thanks to the support of northern ireland's politicians.