… The domestic meat industry is protected by 39 per cent tariffs…



EU president says special place in hell for Brexit promoters

Row ignites hours after Trade Secretary Liam Fox indicates zero tariffs possible


The National (UAE) 

Feb 6, 2019


Britain’s trade secretary has raised the possibility of tariffs on global imports being slashed to zero in the event of a no-deal Brexit in March.


Liam Fox told MPs that he had never advocated full liberalisation of the UK’s tariff regime but said the decision was under consideration by the government.


The development came as the head of the EU leaders council Donald Tusk made a provocative attack on the Brexit supporters, condemning their failure to propose a workable model for trade with Europe.


Speaking just a day before Theresa May, the British prime minister, travels to Brussels for last ditch talks on the so-called backstop to preserve free trade across the Irish border, Mr Tusk said the Withdrawal Agreement reached last year could not be reopened.


Once described as a nuclear option, zero tariffs under the World Trade Organisation rules would allow Britain to accept imports from around the globe with minimum regulation.


Mr Fox said that government would soon publish its decision on tariff levels if the UK failed to strike a deal with the European Union about its future political and trade relationship.


Britain is due to leave the EU in less than two months on March 29 but the prospects of securing an agreement – strongly supported by the majority of businesses - are dwindling.


Premier Theresa May’s proposals were rejected by MPs and the EU has so-far refused to renegotiate the deal.


Senior ministers have previously promoted the idea of Britain’s post-Brexit future as a low-tax, low-regulation economy but the prospect of slashing tariffs has angered industry leaders.


Mr Fox first raised the prospect of zero tariffs in a meeting last week with senior officials from Britain’s ceramics industry...


... While consumers would benefit from cheaper imported goods, a unilateral reduction of tariffs to zero would hit industries employing millions of people, MPs told the trade secretary on Monday.


The domestic meat industry is protected by 39 per cent tariffs and imported cars have a 10 per cent tariff, the all-party international trade committee heard.


Mr Fox said that switching to zero tariffs would result in a sudden shock of competition for some sectors and would prevent the UK from giving preferential tariff rates to developing nations.


“That is not a position I have advocated but it’s not a decision alone for me to take,” Mr Fox said...