A range of household appliances and foods will be cheaper and consumers offered more choice, ministers say, under a new trade regime set to begin in January.
Britain will scrap all levies on £30bn of imports when formally leaving EU rules at the end of the year, it was announced this morning.
Products such as fridge-freezers, dishwashers and other household goods which are currently marked up by up to 3% will have no tariffs at all.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss says the new regime, which has been under intense consideration, will simplify trade and lower administrative burdens for businesses.
But tariffs will remain on UK-produced cars – at 10% – and on agricultural products including lamb, beef and butter at their current levels, following concerns that these industries could be decimated by Brexit.
These new tariffs will be applied to trade with any country with which the UK has not negotiated a trade deal by the time the transition period ends on 31 December.
The government aims to negotiate a trade deal with the EU this year, but talks have yet to yield a breakthrough.
Ms Truss said today: For the first time in 50 years we are able to set our own tariff regime that is tailored to the UK economy.
Our new Global Tariff will benefit UK consumers and households by cutting red tape and reducing the cost of thousands of everyday products.
With this straightforward approach, we are backing UK industry and helping businesses overcome the unprecedented economic challenges posed by coronavirus.
Under the new rules, 60% of UK trade – worth £425bn – would be tariff-free on World Trade Organisation terms or through trade deals – and this would increase as more trade deals are struck.
This compares with 47% of trade which is tax-free for the UK currently, under EU rules, meaning an extra £30bn of trade would be tariff-free from next year.
This announcement is being made now, it is understood, in order to give businesses notice about what they can expect post-Brexit. Prices for consumers depend on businesses passing on any saving.
It had been expected last year that the UK would scrap tariffs on up to 90% of goods, but the plans appear to have been watered down.
Ceramics and glass – UK industries which were also deeply concerned about the end of tariffs leading to intense competition – will also retain theirs.
Zero tariffs will apply on:
- Dishwashers (down from 2.7%)
- Freezers (down from 2.5%)
- Sanitary products and tampons (down from 6.3%)
- Paints (down from 6.5%) and screwdrivers (down from 2.7%)
- Mirrors (down from 4%)
- Scissors and garden shears (down from 4.7%)
- Padlocks (down from 2.7%)
- Cooking products such as baking powder (down from 6.1%), yeast (down from 12%), bay leaves (down from 7%), ground thyme (down from 8.5%) and cocoa powder (down from 8%)
- Christmas trees (down from 2.5%)
There is also a temporary zero rates on medical products to fight COVID-19 including PPE, and disinfectant.
(c) Sky News 2020: Which items could be cheaper under government’s new trade regime?