UK shoppers could be facing higher prices if the government fails to secure new global trade deals post-Brexit, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The organisation says that, as a member of the EU, the UK currently benefits from zero- or low-rate tariffs on various imports from trade deals that the EU has negotiated with other countries.
However, once the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, it could be subject to higher tariffs and potential customs barriers, leading to higher prices for businesses and consumers.
“While securing a deal with the EU to enable tariff-free trade to continue remains the priority, the deals the EU has negotiated with countries around the world also contribute to the choice and affordability of goods that UK shoppers purchase every day,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the BRC. “People need reassurance from Government that these deals will be transferred in time to ensure that UK consumers don’t lose out.”
The BRC says that products such as clothing, wine, fruit, vegetables and fish would be hardest hit by new or higher tariffs, according to its research.
Earlier this month, a breakthrough in Brexit talks meant that negotiations could move onto the topic of trade.
Since then, several representative groups in the industry have spoken out about the importance of this stage, including the EU’s FoodDrinkEurope, the UK’s Food and Drink Federation, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, and companies such as Diageo and Nestlé.
“Now that an agreement has been reached to move the negotiations on to trade, the focus must be on securing the continuity of free trade with Europe, alongside replicating these existing agreements with countries outside of the EU,” said Opie.
“These are the crucial next steps that Government needs to take to avoid a cliff-edge situation on Brexit day and to deliver a fair Brexit for consumers,” he concluded.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Sarah Harford. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.