Business presenter ‘cynical’ about new post-Brexit tariff regime to cut taxes on imports

Liz Truss poses with a union flag umbrella as she takes visits Syndey to promote post-Brexit Britain

Liz Truss poses with a union flag umbrella as she takes visits Syndey to promote post-Brexit Britain. Photograph: Twitter. - Credit: Archant

An unexpected announcement from the government about plans for a new post-Brexit tariff regime has left one leading business presenter questioning why it was rushed out.

The Department for International Trade said the new regime - to be called the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) - will see £62 billion of imports overall become levy free while protection for industries such as agriculture, automotive and fishing.

The UK will also see thousands of tariff variations on products scrapped - including more than 13,000 tariff variations on products including biscuits, waffles, pizzas, quiches, confectionery and spreads.

A list issued by the department included:

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• Dishwashers (down from 2.7%);

• Freezers (down from 2.5%);

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• 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%); and

• Christmas trees (down from 2.5%)

The UK Global Tariff will replace the European Union's external tariff on January 1, at the end of the transition period, and will see 60% of trade come in tariff-free under the plan.

International trade secretary Liz Truss said: '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.'

The government said it would maintain a 10% tariff on cars, as well as those on agricultural products such as lamb, beef, and poultry to protect British industry.

It has also set a temporary zero tariff rate on some products used to fight Covid-19 which would otherwise charge a levy under the new regime, though it added that most pharmaceuticals and medical devices - including ventilators - are set to be tariff-free.

The 10% tariff on cars could add to the cost of vehicles from European manufacturers if a trade deal with Brussels is not struck by the end of the year.

The tariff schedule will apply to all countries that the UK does not have a trade agreement with.

But Sky News' business editor questioned the motives behind the announcement on the day that the number of unemployment benefit claimants surged.

Ian King tweeted: 'Doubtless someone will say it was all planned in advance. However, from here, it looks a cynical piece of attempted news management to release details of the post-Brexit tariff regime at exactly the same moment as the dreadful claimant count figures were being published.'

Jason Hunter wrote: 'That's a major relief. I was getting a bit worried about Brexit. But Liz Truss has saved the day by promising to drop import tariffs to zero on screwdrivers, Christmas trees and paint! Not to mention padlocks being 2.7% cheaper! It's all going to be OK now folks.'

Another Twitter user wrote: 'I lost my freedom of movement and all they gave me back was this fucking Christmas tree. Unbelievable.'

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