Tariffs on meat imports would put “another burden” on British consumers

Ahead of Britain’s impending exit from the EU, lobby group Consumer Choice Center (CCC) said that unilateral tariff liberalisation on agricultural products was vital for making consumers better off and suggested that the UK’s potential gains from trade after Brexit could outweigh the costs.

Maria Chaplia, media associate at CCC, said imposing tariffs on meat imports would not only put another burden on British consumers but would also increase the costs of Brexit and send a signal to the rest of the world that post-Brexit Britain would “pursue protectionism ahead of consumer interests”​.

“Along with fish, oil, and fats, meat is one of the few agricultural products exported by the UK. The abolishment of tariffs would have a significant positive impact on low-income households. More specifically, if the UK removes tariffs on meat, the price will decrease by 3.2% as a consequence of a higher supply,”​ said Chaplia.

She added that the UK Government had a decision to make when it came to which industry it was acting in favour of.

“The UK is a net importer of beef and unilateral liberalisation would have a considerable impact on the domestic market. Opening up the UK market will challenge the meat industry to compete with the rest of the world, which is what the Government seeks to protect it from. What is surprising is why the UK Government is turning a blind eye to the potential gains for consumers.

“In terms of the UK’s gains from trade after Brexit, unilateral liberalisation on agricultural products is a clincher. A no-deal Brexit would cost the UK 2.2% of GDP by 2030. However, unilateral liberalisation would help compensate up to 80% per cent of that reduction in real GDP. Before resorting to protectionism, the UK Government should consider whether it is the interests of one industry or the long-term benefits for all that matter more.”

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