Published: Thu, March 14, 2019

No-deal Brexit: Breakdown of temporary United Kingdom tariffs on beef

No-deal Brexit: Breakdown of temporary United Kingdom tariffs on beef

Tonight (13 March 2019), Parliament will vote on whether to ask the European Union for a delay to its exit, which may affect the prospects of a "no deal" Brexit.

The new system would mean 82 percent of imports from the European Union would be tariff-free, down from 100 percent now, while 92 percent of imports from the rest of the world would pay no duties at the border, up from 56 percent now.

David Sterling, the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, warned in December of an upsurge in smuggling.

The News Letter asked HMRC, which will ultimately police such arrangements, whether the tariff-free arrangement for goods going from the RoI to NI would also apply to RoI goods destined for the GB market which transit via Northern Ireland.

Tariffs on beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy would be reduced but retained in most cases.

However in a seemingly confusing loophole in no deal plan, Northern Ireland's border would remain open for at least 12 months and goods entering from the Republic would not face tariffs to preserve the Good Friday agreement.

Zero tariffs would be applied to items such as footwear, aluminium and steel, machinery, paper and wood products, and weapons and ammunition.

The government is publishing this approach ahead of the vote in Parliament on No Deal to ensure MPs are fully informed.


Ministers accepted that the new regime will cause "concerns" to Northern Irish businesses and farmers about the impact on their competitiveness.

Coveney said that the move could inflict €800m (£696m) in damage to Ireland's agriculture sector, since it would be forced to compete with goods from countries like Brazil. Small businesses trading across the border and not now Value-Added Tax registered would be able to report Value-Added Tax online periodically, without any new processes at the border.

To fulfil essential global obligations, there would be new United Kingdom import requirements such as checks on documents or registration for a very limited set of goods, such as endangered species and hazardous chemicals.

But the Ulster Farmers' Union said it could see no upside to the plans: "The risk is farming becomes a secondary industry in Northern Ireland rather than primary, which has a significant knock-on effect for the rest of NI's economy, especially in rural areas".

Secretary of State Karen Bradley said they would be "temporary" and recognise "the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland".

"If we leave without a deal, we will set the majority of our import tariffs to zero, whilst maintaining tariffs for the most sensitive industries".

The decision to refrain from checks at the Irish border would be temporary while longer term solutions were negotiated. The government is committed to entering into discussions with the European Commission and the Irish Government as a matter of urgency.

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