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EU says it will apply usual trade tariffs on UK in event of ‘no deal’ Brexit

But concerns raised over Irish border proposals

The European Commission has confirmed that it will apply its existing Most Favoured Nation (MFN) import tariffs on produce entering the bloc from the UK should it leave on March 29 with ‘no deal’.

Earlier today (March 13), the UK put forward its own tariff schedule under such a scenario, including protective tariffs for meat, dairy and rice. Many of the tariffs were well below the EU’s equivalent MFN duty, but the Commission has said it will not reciprocate the reduced tariffs for the UK.

“In the event of ‘no deal’ the EU has already made clear that it will apply its normal third country trade regime to all trade with the UK and accordingly charge Most Favoured Nation tariffs on imports from the UK into the EU,” Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said today.

“This is essential for the EU to remain a reliable trading partner to the rest of the world, including upholding internationally agreed rules on global trade.”

Border questions

Of greater concern to the Commission are the UK’s proposals for ensuring that there will not be a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of ‘no deal’.

The UK has said it will refrain from collecting tariffs on goods entering Northern Ireland across the border or introduce any new checks or controls.

“The UK temporary import tariff announced today would therefore not apply to goods crossing from Ireland into Northern Ireland,” the UK government said today.

“We would only apply a small number of measures strictly necessary to comply with international legal obligations, protect the biosecurity of the island of Ireland, or to avoid the highest risks to Northern Ireland businesses - but these measures would not require checks at the border.”

Where this leaves the trade relationship between the UK and Ireland is unclear, with one saying they will apply tariffs and checks, and the other that they will not.

The Commission is also looking at whether the UK plans are compliant with World Trade Organization rules.

"We take note of the UK's plans for temporary tariffs in the case of no deal. We will carefully analyse the compliance of the UK plan with WTO law and the EU's rights thereunder,” it said. “The differential treatment of trade on the island of Ireland, and other trade between the EU and the UK, raises concerns.”

The question of whether the UK plans are WTO-compliant have also been met with differing opinions from trade experts, as reported earlier by IEG Policy.

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