Tuesday, 19 March 2019
By Charlie Cooper

UK to cut tariffs to zero on 87 percent of imports in no-deal Brexit

The U.K. would temporarily cut tariffs to zero on 87 percent of imports in the event of a no-deal Brexit in order to avoid “potential price spikes” hitting consumers, ministers said Wednesday.

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A mixture of tariff rates would be retained for some goods, including on agricultural imports .

The emergency tariff regime would apply for up to 12 months, according to a government briefing issued Wednesday morning.

After Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected by the House of Commons for a second time Tuesday, MPs will vote later Wednesday on whether to leave the EU with no deal on the legal date of March 29.

Trade Policy Minister George Hollingbery said the government “must prepare for all eventualities.”

 “If we leave without a deal, we will set the majority of our import tariffs to zero whilst maintaining tariffs for the most sensitive industries," he said. “This balanced approach will help to support British jobs and avoid potential price spikes that would hit the poorest households the hardest.”

Tariffs on beef products would be set at 53 percent of the EU most-favored-nation rate, while tariffs on poultry products would be set at 60 percent of the EU most-favored-nation rate. Sheep meat would attract the existing EU most-favored-nation rate.

While finished cars would attract a tariff rate of 10.6 percent, no tariffs would apply to car parts required by manufacturers reliant on EU supply chains.

Some minimal tariff rates would also apply to ceramics, fertilizers and textiles.

A set of goods including bananas, raw cane sugar and some kinds of fish would also attract tariffs to protect preferential arrangements the U.K. holds with exporters in developing countries.

The tariff regime will not apply to goods crossing the Northern Ireland border, for which the U.K. today announced a set of temporary, unilateral measures for avoiding checks in the event of no deal.

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