Retailers warn of 40% tariffs and food shortages in event of no-deal Brexit
Beef, cheddar cheese and other foods could have tariffs of 40% imposed on them in the event of a no-deal Brexit, retailers have warned.
It could result in driving up shop prices and lead to delays and shortages in fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Northern Ireland Retail Consortium and Retail Ireland have warned in a statement.
It comes just weeks ahead of the planned March 29 exit of Britain from the European Union.
Also, on Thursday European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called Brexit a ‘disaster’ which could have ‘would have terrible economic and social consequences, both in Britain and on the continent’.
He was speaking after the latest round of talks with Theresa May.
The retailers said that the planned withdrawal comes at just the time of year when Britain is reliant on importing out-of-season food.
It said that 90% of the lettuce consumed in Britain, 80% of tomatoes and 70% of soft fruits come from, or arrive via, Europe, around the withdrawal date.
Half of the UK’s food arrives through Dover and Folkestone ports with the proportion of fresh produce even higher.
Among the tariffs that could be imposed with a no-deal would be ones of 42% on imported cheddar, 46% on mozzarella, 40% on beef, 21% on tomatoes and 15.5% on apples, the BRC said.
‘We cannot easily find an alternative to imports through Calais where there are frequent ferry sailings and the Channel tunnel,’ the BRC’s Andrew Opie told the Guardian.
‘The volumes of fresh produce imported through there are enormous, for example at peak periods there are approximately 130 lorries a day passing through with just citrus fruits.’
Retail Ireland warned that even in the event of an agreed deal, prices were likely to rise because shops would pass on costs to customers of increased checks at ports and and supply chain disruption.