According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA) the government’s commitment (announced on 26 June 2017) to securing existing duty free access to UK markets for 48 of the world’s developing nations will ensure that British manufacturers and retailers can continue to trade efficiently and profitably. These agreements should ensure that the price of household items, ranging from textiles to tea, can be maintained at pre-Brexit levels.
Alex Veitch, Head of Global Policy at FTA says “Imports of many of our staple household items, which reach our shores in bulk shipments from around the globe, currently benefit from reduced or zero tariff agreements. These keep prices stable, both for retailers and for manufacturers – a key requirement when other areas of the economy are currently more volatile. FTA lobbying of government has been relentless in the past year on behalf of the members of the British Shippers’ Council, to ensure that their opinions have been considered, and we look forward to working with the Department for International Trade in the coming months to ensure that the nation’s shopping basket continues to be as affordable as possible.”
Since the EU referendum announcement, FTA has met representatives from the Department for International Trade on three occasions to discuss the priorities of the logistics sector. “Today’s announcement is good news for British retailers, and great for developing countries. Trade policy is set by EU member states, so after Brexit the UK will be free to chart its own course. By committing to a policy of duty-free access to UK markets for these states, the government has stated its intentions to ensure that Britain will keep on trading outside the European Union.
As an EU member, the UK and companies based here can sell their goods freely to customers anywhere else in the EU without those customers having to pay additional taxes to import those goods. British consumers and companies can also import from elsewhere in the EU without tariffs. The EU also has agreements allowing free trade with countries such as Norway, Switzerland, South Africa and South Korea. Outside the EU, the UK will need to strike new deals in order to have free trade with those countries or the remaining EU members.
According to analysis by Civitas, if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal UK exporters could face the potential impact of £5.2 billion in tariffs on goods being sold to the EU. However, EU exporters will also face £12.9 billion in tariffs on goods coming to the UK.
Brexit is still making its mark on the logistics industry, and the period of uncertainly means that global trade is at a transition. The UK will have to feel its way, and hope that the agreements made stay in place to ensure that we are in a strong position to trade.