With all eyes on the coronavirus outbreak, it’s been easy to forget that the UK is still on schedule to leave the European Union in December – and last month the government published three related documents which will have a direct impact on our industry.
The “UK Global Tariff” lists tariffs applicable from January 1, 2021, to goods from countries with which the UK does not have a preferential trade agreement. The document confirms that for wheat and flour existing tariffs will remain, and would therefore apply to goods imported from the EU if no deal is reached. There will be no tariff on high-quality wheat (although there is an error in the specification used, which nabim has taken up with DEFRA), but tariffs of £79 per tonne will apply to other grades of wheat and £143 to wheat flour. Tariffs for rye and maize have been set at zero.
The second document is a negotiating text which confirms the difference in approach between the UK and EU sides. Headline differences, such as fisheries, standards, and the so-called “level playing field” will be the main points of discussion in the round of negotiations beginning on June 2.
Finally, the government has released an interpretation of how the Northern Ireland protocol should be implemented – although it leaves many questions unanswered. To this end, nabim will be chairing meetings of the Arable Chain Advisory Group, which will address key questions affecting the grain sector. With negotiations ongoing between now and the end of the year, we will continue to monitor the situation and keep you advised of all new developments.
Meanwhile, it’s expected that regular nabim Brexit and trade-related conference calls will begin again toward the end of June, once the high-level summit to assess the progress of UK-EU negotiations has taken place.