Responding to the announcement of a free-trade deal between the UK and the EU, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
“After years of campaigning for zero-tariff trade, we welcome the announcement of a free-trade agreement between the UK and EU. This protects consumers on both sides of the Channel from billions in import tariffs on everyday goods. Given that four-fifths of UK food imports come from the EU, today’s announcement should afford households around the UK a collective sigh of relief.
“The UK and EU Governments have taken a crucially important step in agreeing a zero-tariff agreement, to the benefit of customers all over Europe. They must now work to implement this new arrangement as soon as possible, ensuring there are no tariffs from Day 1, and finding new ways to reduce the checks and red tape that we’ll see from the 1st January. The BRC and the rest of the retail industry will be scrutinising the terms of this deal in the coming days.”
The key elements of the trade deal are:
Zero-tariff, zero quota trade in goods.
Qualifying goods must meet the terms of the product specific rules of origin. Traders may self-certify the origin of goods and enjoy full cumulation (both processing and materials.
Level-playing field in terms of existing labour, social, environmental rules but with the ability to diverge subject to measures including tariffs where there is trade distortion.
Sectoral annexes on pharmaceuticals, chemicals, organics and wines.
No mutual products recognition on conformity assessment on electrical and industrial goods. Self-declaration of conformity of low-risk products possible to make it easier to sell in both markets.
Mutual recognition of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status to facilitate customs processes and new customs safety and security declarations.
Co-operation and dialogue on sanitary and phytosanitary measures but paperwork required on cross-border food movements. UK has unliateral easements here during the first three and six months, in respect of GB.
The deal secures many of the main objectives set by the BRC and the industry over the past year since the start of the future relationship negotiations, so the key elements are very much welcome in avoiding tariffs on everyday goods, providing some relief for cross-border traders, and offering the basis of future co-operation.
The UK Parliament will sit next Wednesday to pass a Bill giving effect to the deal. EU institutions will meet over Christmas to provisionally apply the deal and give it effect in time for 1 January.
The BRC will be examining the draft Trade and Co-operation Agreement and other documents accompanying the deal over the coming days. We will outline our findings to our members and associates on Wednesday, with briefings available afterwards. Keep checking the Brexit Hub for the latest news and guidance over Christmas