SRC urges government to ‘put customers first’ in Brexit negotiations

Britain going its own way

The British Retail Consortium has produced new research analysing the effect of ‘non-tariff barriers’ on imports of goods that emphasises the importance of maintaining frictionless trade post-Brexit.

Currently, when goods enter the European Union from outside member countries they are subject to checks and controls. There are 405 of these controls in total, with fresh beef facing 22 of these measures, strawberries 28 and pharmaceutical products 44. These are in place to ensure that products pose no risk to human health; that they comply with rules of origin and that correct levels of taxation are levied.

As members of the EU customs union and single market the UK is not currently subject to any of these controls. However, if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, that will change.

This will lead to a significant increase in administration for most goods and a risk of substantial delays at borders.

BRC’s analysis finds that imports of food and beverage products would face an average increase in the cost of importing from the EU of up to 29% from non-tariff barriers alone, under a no deal scenario. Non-food goods would face increases too: up to 7% in the case of clothing and textiles.

David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, commented: “The outcome of the Brexit negotiations could have a profound impact on the goods that retailers’ import and stock, the products that consumers buy and the prices they pay.

“Putting consumers first in the Brexit negotiations and securing a lasting friction-free and tariff-free trade deal with the EU is vital. It will ensure consumers continue to have the widest possible choice on shop shelves and will help retailers keep down prices. It will mean ordinary Scottish shoppers aren’t hit with unwanted new costs, at a time when family finances are being stretched due to inflation, weak wage growth and higher taxes.”