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UK: No tariffs for 88% of imports in event of no-deal Brexit

Lianna Brinded
·Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Cargo containers with European Union and British flags
UK is proposing levy-free access to most imports under a revised tariff regime. Photo: Getty

The UK government has unveiled its proposed tariff plan in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Under a revised tariff regime, Britain said 88% of total imports by value are eligible for levy-free access and won’t need to pay taxes.

The government added that it could make changes to the new regime under a no-deal Brexit on day one if necessary, under an “exceptional review process.” The plan is a revision to the one it published ahead of the original Brexit deadline in March this year.

READ MORE: No-deal Brexit will hit UK economy hardest and make UK debt skyrocket

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has until 31 October to seal a deal with the EU over Brexit.

However, the European Union will decide this week whether a Brexit deal is possible, which will fundamentally alter the decision course of parliament before the Brexit deadline.

French president Emmanuel Macron told UK prime minister Boris Johnson that the remaining 27 EU members will make their decision by the end of the week after they discuss whether a proposed Brexit deal can "respect" the bloc’s principles and is likely to be passed through parliament.

Meanwhile, both the UK and countries across Europe are trying to prepare and put in contingency plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Britain, in particular, is trying to make sure consumer prices don’t rise while also making sure it doesn’t put British firms out of business.

What are the other details?

The new plan lowers tariffs on trucks and applies tariffs to additional bioethanol and some clothing products. The government will reduce the tariff from 22% to 10% and will last up to 12 months.

"It’s not surprising that they’re trying to get things a little bit more fine-tuned,” said Meredith Crowley, an international trade economist from the University of Cambridge, on BBC Radio’s Today programme.

"With heavy goods vehicles they’ve lowered the tariff there. That potentially is a sector that’s really facing some difficulty with Brexit, because 90% of commercial vehicles produced in Britain get sold in the EU, and so, on the export side, Britain’s looking at facing high tariffs into the European Union.

READ MORE: UK government gives £1m to drive recruitment of ex-criminals in trucker industry

"They were trying to have the same high tariffs on imports from the European Union, but that could also raise prices for purchasers of heavy goods vehicles. I would imagine that as this moves forward, they will probably have to adjust again in the future as they start to see which sectors within the UK economy suffer from some high tariffs that are still in place.”

The latest on no-deal Brexit projections

Meanwhile, a new report, entitled The IFS Green Budget 2019, by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in association with Citi and the Nuffield Foundation, said a no-deal Brexit would push UK debt to its highest since the 1960s as borrowing was likely to rise to £100bn ($122.9bn) and total debt would soar to 90% of national income.

It also said that a “no-deal Brexit would be economically considerably worse, even under a relatively benign scenario.”

Chart: IFS
Chart: IFS