The UK faces a 22% price hike in food prices if it fails to negotiate continued tariff-free trade with the European Union post-Brexit, according to the country’s retailers.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) study, published yesterday (20 April), said if the UK were to default to World Trade Organization (WTO) tariffs on food imports, in the absence of a settling a “crucial” deal with the EU, the weighted average tariff would be 22%.
“Beverages, fruit, vegetables, meat and fish are the UK’s biggest imports from the EU and without continuation of tariff-free trade, tariffs could be as high as 46% for cheese or 21% for tomatoes,” the BRC said.
The BRC said the “cliff-edge scenario of defaulting to WTO tariffs should be avoided through a transitional arrangement that recognises all goods in free circulation”.
As an EU member state, the UK pays no tariffs on the food it imports from elsewhere in the bloc. However, without a deal, these tariffs could rise by up to 40% for Irish beef and around 46% for Italian mozzarella cheese.
Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s CEO, said. “Ensuring the journey ahead is positive for both retailers and consumers requires an orderly and sequenced Brexit process. The first step is to mitigate the risks by securing the continuation of tariff-free trade with the EU… next is the need to replicate the EU’s existing deals with developing countries. Only then, should the government look to realise the opportunities presented by new trading relationships with the rest of the world.”