FDF: tariff schedule confusing and complex

Businesses are struggling to adjust to the UK’s updated temporary tariff regime in a no-deal scenario, the Food and Drink Federation has said in a statement issued today.

Food and Drink Federation (FDF) policy manager Dominic Goudie described the process as “confusing and complex” and is “not going to create a big win for consumers”.

“The investment made right across the supply chain in preparing for a no-deal Brexit means prices will likely increase regardless of the Government’s tariff decision,” Goudie said. “New tariffs will apply to some foods that are currently imported tariff-free, yet no tariffs will be applied to goods that cross the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. At the same time, UK exports to the EU will face the EU’s prohibitively high most-favoured-nation tariffs. These changes to tariffs facing both imports and exports will lead to massive trade distortions that will be bad for business and consumers alike.

“Many food and drink manufacturers who trade with the EU will now question whether the UK is the right place for them to be.

“Government must avoid a catastrophic no-deal scenario that would result in these tariffs entering into force, so that they can undertake an open and transparent consultation on future UK tariffs.”

The NFU went a step further, accusing the government of severely undermining the British farming industry by confirming it will remove the tariff safeguards for a number of key agricultural sectors in the event of a no-deal Brexit, including grains, eggs, fruit and vegetables and a number of dairy products.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “Farmers are going to feel betrayed by this government’s failure to act now in making sure that all that can be done is being done to help mitigate the damaging effects of a no-deal Brexit. I don’t recall anyone selling a vision of post-Brexit Britain as one involving lower standard food filling shop shelves while British farmers, the guardians of our cherished countryside, go out of business.”

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