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By summer 2023, Brexit had allowed the UK to remove tariffs completely on 47% of all product lines entering the UK, making products cheaper for UK  consumers and businesses. In the EU, the level is 27% – so that’s 20% more product lines that are cheaper.


After leaving the EU, the UK was able to retake its independent seat at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – but this requirement also came with obligations to declare what bound and applied tariffs the UK would offer fellow WTO members within its independent trade schedule.

The UK took the opportunity to remove hundreds of so-called nuisance tariffs, as well as tariffs intended to protect industries of the EU, that the UK had no need to protect. The effect of this applied tariff liberalisation was to increase the volume of product lines that were completely tariff free, from 27% in the EU to over 47% – making goods cheaper than they otherwise would be for the UK consumer. This amounted to over 2,000 product lines having tariffs removed completely.

Product categories that saw the most tariff removal included “Articles of Stone & Plaster” (around 45% of tariff lines eliminated); “Machines and Mechanical Appliances” (around 35%); “Leather and Leather Goods” (around 25%); and “Wood and Articles of Wood (around 25%).

To quote the former Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade, Nigel Huddleston: “I will not apologise for the fact that when we left the EU, we got rid of hundreds of useless tariffs that were doing nothing other than pushing up prices for British consumers. We liberalised tariffs on environmental goods, and we liberalised tariffs on goods that we generally do not produce in the UK, thus massively reducing the total number of tariffs faced by British consumers. That is a good thing, throughout the UK”

Reference: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2023-05-18/debates/42FBD937-18B4-466D-9B34-5672DA3B0473/FoodPrices?highlight=47#contribution-A4B92488-396B-47BF-B570-4C391F1CC3B5 

Reference: https://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/uktpo/2020/05/20/new-tariff-on-the-block-what-is-in-the-uks-global-tariff

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