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Without a post-Brexit tariff-free trade, consumers face higher prices from next year.

July 21, 2020 12:30 PM

brak (Thanks to Rocco Dipoppa for sharing their work on Unsplash.)

British Retail Consortium (BRC) warns shoppers face higher prices if no EU trade deal

"Government must put consumers first and agree a deal that avoids tariffs and minimises the impact of non-tariff barriers" says BRC Director

Reuters Business News report that the retail industry have urged UK and European negotiators to reach a post-Brexit trade deal, warning that without tariff-free trade, consumers face higher prices from next year.

Already struggling with high rents, business taxes, tight margins and online competition, the retail sector are announcing thousands of job losses each week due the covid-19 pandemic as shoppers stay away from the high street. The latest round of talks between the UK and EU were cut short with both sides still to overcome the gap in their positions and with the clock ticking down to 31st December Britain could still leave the transition period without a trade deal.

Britain left the EU in January and is currently in a standstill transition period. In May, the UK government published its new tariff schedule, which would apply from Jan. 1 2021 if a deal was not agreed. Four-fifths of UK food imports come from the EU and EU imports also play a major role in supply chains for fashion, homeware, and other retail sectors.

Under the schedule, 85% of foods imported from the EU will face tariffs of more than 5%, including 48% on beef mince and 16% on cucumbers. The average tariff on food imported from the EU would be over 20%.

Given the highly competitive nature of retail, the industry could not absorb all these increased costs, meaning the public would face higher prices, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said.

"Many UK shoppers experienced disruption in the run up to (coronavirus) lockdown; without a deal, the public may face an even bigger challenge at the end of the transition period," said Andrew Opie, the BRC's director of food and sustainability.

"With the clock ticking down to 31st December, the government must put consumers first and agree a deal that avoids tariffs and minimises the impact of non-tariff barriers."

Meanwhile: Post Brexit the UK government will be seeking alternative sources of food to import and is now free to negotiate a trade deal with Donald Trump.

The UK's world-leading food standards could be compromised under a UK-US trade deal, with consumers unable to make meaningful choices about what they eat.

A recent survey by Which showed that there was strong public opposition to lowering of safety or animal welfare. A UK-US trade deal could see hormone-treated beef, pigs and chlorinated chicken - practices currently banned in the UK - be imported or produced here. The government had promised to uphold food standards but has recently begun to backtrack. Cabinet Office Minister Penny Mourdant told concerned MPs 'we should be trusting the consumer' over food standards

The new consumer research by Which of 2,078 adults in June found consumers don't agree. Three fifths of people say food produced to lower standards should not be on sale regardless of labelling. Two-thirds were concerned about lower-quality food being sold in schools and hospitals. Labelling could also be open to challenge as part of the trade deal, as the US takes a different approach to labelling of production methods, and has previously challenged country of origin labelling.

The US wants labelling to be reduced. US government negotiating objectives, published last year, called for 'new and enforceable rules to eliminate unjustified trade restrictions or unjustified commercial requirements (including unjustified labeling) that affect new technologies.' In other trade deals with Canada and Mexico the US has pushed for a reduction in labelling.

Which is asking that 'The government commit to upholding our food standards and enshrine this in law through the Agriculture Bill or Trade Bill and signal to all future trading partners that the UK is seeking to champion high-quality and high standards food around the globe, and not accept any deals that would weaken them"

No toxic trade deal with Trump

Global Justice says, A US-UK trade deal could see chlorinated chicken and hormone injected beef on our supermarket shelves, US corporations in our NHS and a whole raft of our laws and regulations challenged in international corporate courts.

This is even more likely under Boris Johnson's government.

We can't let that happen. Sign the petition to oppose a toxic US-UK trade deal now.

SIGN THE PETITION FROM GLOBAL JUSTICE NOW.

Source:

UK retail warns shoppers face higher prices if no EU trade deal

REUTERS BUSINESS NEWS 10/7,UK retail warns shoppers face higher prices if no EU trade deal Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Toby Chopra

Which: Why labels won't protect UK food standards from a US trade deal By Sam Richardson 25 Jun 2020 https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/06/why-labels-wont-protect-uk-food-standards-from-a-us-trade-deal/ - Which?

Global Justice:

Global Justice Now campaigns for a world where resources are controlled by the many, not the few. We work in solidarity with social movements to fight the causes of poverty and injustice.

NFU food quality petitionNFU PETITION ON FOOD STANDARDS

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