BRC calls for tariff-free trade post-Brexit

Brexit: unzipping Britain from EU

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned grocery shoppers of the potential price rises they face after Brexit if Britain leaves the EU without a trade agreement in place.

If a deal can’t be hammered out, then imports from Europe into the UK will be subject to new tariffs under World Trade Organisation Most Favoured Nation (MFN) rates.

The BRC has crunched the numbers for what an MFN tariff arrangement could mean for the price of a handful of staple foods for Britain’s shoppers.

It could see the average weekly cost of four staple food items increase by:

  • Beef: up to 37%
  • Cheese: up to 43%
  • Tomatoes: up to 8%
  • Broccoli and Cabbages: up to 13%

The figures represent a potential increase of 3% on the weekly food shop for the average household. They are based solely on the impact of MFN tariff rates and have stripped away all other price influences.

Calling for political certainty on the final deal between the UK and EU as soon as possible in the best interests of businesses and consumers, particularly on the “fundamental” point of the post-Brexit tariff arrangement, the BRC said across the board tariff-free trade must remain a priority for both sides in the negotiations.

“These stark findings show that Scottish households potentially face a leap in prices for everyday essentials like meat, cheese and vegetables if a lasting tariff-free Brexit trade deal with the EU is not secured,” said David Lonsdale, Director of the BRC’s sister organisation, the Scottish Retail Consortium.

“Retailers are straining to keep prices down for shoppers however unwanted new import tariffs would be difficult to absorb and may mean higher prices on shop shelves in Scotland. This presents a challenge too for Scottish consumers who are already seeing family finances stretched due to a cocktail of inflation, increased pension contributions as well as higher council tax and income taxes.”