Trade body counters calls for import tariff cut

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

The best outcome would be continued tariff-free and frictionless trade between the UK and the EU
The best outcome would be continued tariff-free and frictionless trade between the UK and the EU
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has stressed the importance of two-way tariff-free trade after Brexit, in contrast to one consumer group advocating unilateral abolition of UK import tariffs.

A spokeswoman for the Consumer Choice Center said: “Imposing any tariffs on food will not only put another burden on British consumers and increase the costs of Brexit, but will also send a signal to the rest of the world that post-Brexit Britain will pursue protectionism ahead of consumer interests.

“Free trade is vital for consumer choice as it allows consumers to enjoy a greater variety of products at a lower cost. Interventions in the form of tariffs, non-tariff barriers or quotas hit consumers the hardest and, therefore, should be avoided or decreased at all costs.

'Consumer will lose'

“Leaving the EU without a deal would cost the UK 2.2% of GDP ​[gross domestic product] by 2030. However, unilateral liberalisation would help compensate up to 80% of that reduction in real GDP. Therefore, it is key that, after Brexit, the UK either fully abolishes its tariffs on food, or keeps them low. If Brexit comes with tariffs on food, a small group of people – British farmers – will win, while every British consumer will lose.”

However, an FDF spokeswoman told Food Manufacture​: “The UK Government set out four options for UK tariffs in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. FDF has concerns around all the options, with each presenting benefits and risks depending on the supply chain model operated by businesses. Any change to the status quo would be felt across the food chain by farmers, manufacturers, traders and, ultimately, by consumers. The best outcome would be for the Government to ensure there is a deal that avoids a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and delivers continued tariff-free and frictionless trade between the UK and the EU.”

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