Half marks for tariff reductions

While the government's 'modest liberalisation of tariffs' (in their words) is a step in the right direction for consumers and producers, but in bowing to the agricultural lobby the government would penalise Brits that dare to buy food from overseas. We call on government to trust the quality and public appeal of British products, rather than the force of consumer taxes to sell them.

Matthew Lesh, Head of Research at the free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute, said:

“The Government’s announcement about reducing tariffs in case of a No Deal Brexit is a welcome shift toward free trade —but fails to go far enough. All tariffs should be phased out if not immediately abolished. Anyone who cares about Britain's poor, about child poverty and the proliferation of food banks, should be worried that we’ll be paying more for food than necessary.

“In case of a No Deal Brexit, consumers will get cheaper footwear and textiles and producers will pay less for inputs like machinery, base metals, plastics, rubber, and chemicals. These reductions are essential to ensure prices do not skyrocket after applying duties to European Union imports which are currently tariff-free.

“However, Brits are set to pay substantial import taxes on meat. We’ll be paying more for Spanish chorizo, New Zealand lamb and Danish pork. This is a disgrace. It’s economics 101: tariffs are a tax on British consumers that make food more expensive and industry less efficient, pushing down wages.

“I have faith that British farmers can compete with foreign producers on a level playing field by providing a high quality and high welfare product. The New Zealand and Australian experiences show that farmers thrive after the cutting of subsidies and tariffs.”

For further comment, or to arrange an interview please contact Matt Kilcoyne via email (matt@adamsmith.org), mobile (07904099599), or office phone (02072224995).