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Consumers will suffer without 'comprehensive' trade deal

The British Retail Consortium has called for the government to negotiate a zero-tariff agreement that minimises regulatory checks.

The BRC has today launched a report called A Fair Deal for Consumers: EU Trade Roadmap, which outlines the retail industry’s priorities for the upcoming government negotiations with the EU.

The roadmap calls for pragmatic solutions on future compliance and regulatory checks that will apply from January 2021. The BRC said that without these, consumers will face higher costs and reduced availability of goods.

In the report, it outlined key mitigations that could reduce the impact on consumers and retailers:

  • Zero tariff trade deal
  • Cooperation with the EU to minimise trade friction
  • Coordination on VAT, customs and excise procedures
  • Advance information on new checks and paperwork
  • Timely construction of necessary infrastructure at UK ports

Companies may be required to produce VAT and excise documents, freight documents, health and veterinary paperwork, export health certificates, “exit and entry” summary declarations, and “safety and security” permits.

The BRC said in a statement: “The government must establish import and export processes along with the infrastructure needed to conduct necessary checks.

“Staff will need to be hired and trained to carry out these checks. IT systems must be adapted and tested. Holding facilities for lorries, particularly at Dover and Folkestone, will need to be constructed.” 

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “The issue is simple – higher tariffs and extensive checks will harm consumers, retailers, and the UK economy. The government must set about to negotiate a zero-tariff agreement that minimises checks and red tape otherwise it will be consumers who suffer as a result.

“The introduction of excessive or avoidable checks would mean businesses face a mountain of paperwork to be filled out by an army of newly trained staff, coupled with exhaustive checks on thousands of lorries every day. And the result for consumers would be higher costs and reduced availability on the shelves.”


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