Liz Truss' department slammed for false claim about cost of soy sauce after Brexit

Liz Truss speaking to Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi

Liz Truss speaking to Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi - Credit: Downing Street/PA

The Department for International Trade has come under heavy fire after claiming soy sauce, which Britain currently enjoys tariff-free access to as a member of the EU, will be cheaper after Brexit.

Liz Truss' department used a Japanese-themed episode of the Great British Bake Off to claim that the price of soy sauce in the UK after Brexit will drop.

Britain and Japan signed a post-Brexit trade agreement last week that will enable the UK to send most of its exports to the Pacific nation tariff-free in a move described by the trade secretary as "ground-breaking" and "British-shaped".

Referencing Bake Off, a popular baking show, the department tweeted: "The bakers used a lot of soya sauce in the first challenge… so it’s a good thing it will be made cheaper thanks to our trade deal with Japan."

But experts were quick to point out that under the current trade arrangements the UK enjoys as a member of the EU, tariffs on soy sauce are zero. This is because the EU has a free trade deal with Japan, which applies to the UK until the end of the year.

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David Henig, the UK director of policy think tank the European Centre for International Political Economy, tweeted: "Current tariff on soy sauce entering the UK from Japan - 0%. Tariff on soy sauce entering UK after UK-Japan trade deal - 0%.

"Not a good look when you can't trust a government social media account to tell the truth."

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The department for international trade double-down, responding: "Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, the tariff on soya sauce is 6 per cent. Under our deal, they will be 0 per cent."

However, the UK and Japan do not trade on WTO terms, leading critics to highlight that the department was essentially claiming that free trade deals with other economies, which the UK freely enjoys as a member of the EU, is more beneficial than trading on WTO terms, which No 10 has claimed is a desirable outcome after Brexit.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly threatened to walk away from EU trade talks, claiming that trading with the bloc on WTO terms would be better than leaving with a deal.

People on Twitter were quick to slam the department.

Henig responded: "Checking my own soy sauce, it says 'Naturally brewed in China. Blended in the UK' Is that going to be cheaper after a UK-Japan deal?"

Jon Tringham tweeted a photo of an empty Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, writing: "Kikkoman soy sauce sold in the UK currently is brewed in the Netherlands, so has a short journey, 0% tariffs and no customs costs."

One user, by the name Steve Analyst, wrote: "Are we really going to be selling trade deals by saying: 'Good job that trade deal removed the tariffs which we had complete control of in the first place.'"

Campaigner Femi said promoting the removal of non-existent tariffs was like "a thief going for a joy ride in your car, bringing it back and wanting praise for not crashing it".

James O'Brien added: "The disingenuousness here is nauseating, of course, & the blatant politicking deeply concerning. But what’s most significant is that they are *already* reduced to casting imported soy sauce staying the same price as some sort of Brexit ‘win’."

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