- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
The British Retail Consortium has released new evidence that highlights the importance to UK consumers of maintaining the benefits of trade deals that the EU has negotiated with other countries, especially when it comes to clothing.
As a member of the EU, the UK currently benefits from zero or low rate tariffs on various imports from bilateral trade deals that the EU has negotiated with third countries. From the day after the UK leaves the EU, on March 30, 2019, it will no longer be covered by these international agreements, so imported goods will be subject to higher tariffs and potential customs barriers. For consumers, this means higher prices.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “While securing a deal with the EU to enable tariff-free trade to continue remains the priority, the deals the EU has negotiated with countries around the world also contribute to the choice and affordability of goods that UK shoppers purchase every day. People need reassurance from Government that these deals will be transferred in time to ensure that UK consumers don’t lose out.”
British Retail Consortium highlights importance of bilateral trade deals to UK consumers
Using import data from UK retailers, the BRC said it has identified the countries where negotiating replica trade agreements will make the most difference to ensure prices do not rise immediately on exit.
These deals are particularly important for the price of clothing for UK consumers, and a “no deal” could mean the tariff on clothing from countries such as Turkey and Tunisia, both major suppliers to the UK, could rise from zero to 12 percent.
Opie added: “New or higher tariffs inevitably mean consumers would face higher prices in their everyday shop, as staple products such as fruit, vegetables, fish, and clothing would be hardest hit. Price increases of any scale would add to the burden of hard-pressed consumers whose finances are already being squeezed by inflationary pressures.
“Now that an agreement has been reached to move the negotiations on to trade, the focus must be on securing the continuity of free trade with Europe, alongside replicating these existing agreements with countries outside of the EU. These are the crucial next steps that Government needs to take to avoid a cliff-edge situation on Brexit day and to deliver a fair Brexit for consumers.”
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