Last-minute Brexit deal risks supermarket turmoil

Government must avoid tariffs, says BRC

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) estimates that supermarkets could be slapped with at least £3bn of new trade tariffs on food, a cost that would push prices up.

Currently the UK doesn’t pay tariffs on goods, including food products, coming in from other EU countries. However, this could change after Brexit, piling on extra expense.

At the moment, the UK imports about 30pc of its food from the EU and another 10pc from other countries.

Helen Dickinson, boss of the British Retail Consortium, says the threat of a disorderly Brexit is deeply concerning and bureaucracy will create new problems even if a deal is done.

“New checks and red tape that will apply from January 1 will create additional disruption in the supply of many goods that come from or through the EU,” she says.

“The Government must do what is necessary to agree to a zero-tariff agreement, or else it will be the public that pays the price.”

Should disruption at the border occur on a large scale, supermarkets have the option to fly more products in as air freight capacity has been freed up by tourism coming to a halt. It will not necessarily be cheaper, though.

Supermarkets were forced to impose limits on some items during lockdown, when demand for essentials such as toilet roll surged from queuing shoppers. Some supermarkets have since re-introduced limits as cases rise again.

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