A raft of household appliances and foods are set to be cheaper and Britons will have more choice under a new post-Brexit tariff regime unveiled by the Government.
The Department for International Trade said the new regime – to be called the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) – will see duties axed on around £62 billion worth of imports, while tariffs will also be protected for industries such as agriculture, automotive and fishing.
Items such as dishwashers, freezers and even Christmas trees will see zero tariffs under the regime, while the Government said cooking products such as cocoa and baking powder will also be levy free.
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.
The Government said around £62 billion of imports overall will be levy free, including £30 billion on imports to the supply chain.
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.
Talks between the UK and EU have made little progress so far, with Government insiders describing the latest negotiating session as “tetchy”.
The CBI business body said the new tariff regime gave firms “much-needed clarity”.
But Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director general, said: “Businesses will need time to assess the detail and ensuring there’s a system in place to address issues as they arise will be critical.
“Crucially, firms’ number one priority is for the Government to strike a deal with the EU and ensuring continuity of existing trade deals.”
Stephen Phipson, chief executive of manufacturer’s organisation Make UK, said the regime “does represent a better balance between consumer and producer interests than earlier proposals”, which were to increase the percentage of tariff-free products from 47% to 87%.
He joined the CBI in calling for a “comprehensive trade agreement with the EU” by the year-end deadline.