As an EU member, the UK currently benefits from zero or low rate tariffs on various imports from trade deals that the EU has negotiated with third countries. From the day after the UK leaves the EU on 30 March 2019, it will no longer be covered by these international agreements.
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.
The organisation said the deals would be particularly important for the price of food and clothing for UK shoppers and estimates that a "no deal" could mean the tariff on clothing from Turkey could rise from zero to 12%, and the tariff on fish from Iceland from 3.4% to 11%.
Andrew Opie, BRC director of food & sustainability, said:“People need reassurance from Government that these deals will be transferred in time to ensure that UK consumers don’t lose out.
“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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