Importance of reaching an EU Brexit deal stressed by NFU
The Government’s new import tariff regime will provide certainty for farmers by largely maintaining import tariffs at present levels, according to the National Farmers Union (NFU) However the organisation stress the importance of still reaching a trade deal with the EU.
The UK Global Tariff (UKGT) was passed through Parliament earlier this week and is set to be rolled out from 1st January 2021. The tariff allows the UK to form trade deals which ensure British production standards and will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff as the framework to trade independently outside of existing free trade agreements.
Commenting on the tariff, international trade secretary, Liz Truss, said: “It’s simpler to use, greener, and cuts red tape and other unnecessary barriers to trade. It will make it easier for businesses to import goods from overseas.”
However, NFU president, Minette Batters, stressed the importance of applying the tariff rates set out in the UKGT should the UK fail to reach an agreement with the EU.
“Of course, these new tariff costs would come into force on imports from the EU in a no-deal scenario, which no-one wants to see.”
She said: “The majority of British farmers will be pleased that the Government is sticking to the tariff regime it announced in the Spring, whether or not we strike a deal with the EU. Doing so ensures fairness for farmers and will help to prevent a flood of new imports of food produced in ways that would be illegal here.
“Of course, these new tariff costs would come into force on imports from the EU in a no-deal scenario, which no-one wants to see. Such an outcome would have severe ramifications for the long-term future of British farming, despite the important protections the UKGT will provide. I would stress the importance of reaching a deal with the EU for our nation’s food and drink sector, which is currently worth more than £120 billion to the national economy.
“However, I am incredibly disappointed that the Government is pressing ahead with an enormous tariff-free quota for raw sugar imports, which will have an extremely detrimental effect on the home-grown sugar sector by undermining them with imports produced in ways prohibited in this country.
“The Government’s justification suggests that the price of sugar ‘would be no different’ as a result of the tariff-free quota but also that it ‘is in the interests of UK consumers’. It is hard to square these two assertions, and it is very difficult to understand what exactly this quota serves to achieve, apart from harming a successful home-grown industry.”
Photograph: NFU president, Minette Batters.