Tariffs will be removed from 87% of imports, while some imports including selected foodstuffs and cars will go up, the government announced yesterday.
“If we leave without a deal, we will set the majority of our import tariffs to zero, whilst maintaining tariffs for the most sensitive industries,” Trade Policy Minister George Hollingbery said
Goods from the EU are currently tariff-free, but in the case of a no-deal Brexit, World Trade Organization taxes would have been the default position without this intervention.
Tariffs on finished vehicles would be retained, though car makers and other manufacturers relying on EU supply chains may not face additional tariffs on parts imported from the EU to prevent disruption to supply chains.
The new tariff schedule would apply from 11pm on 29 March in the event of a crash out of the EU with no deal and would be in place for up to 12 months, while Parliament figures out a tariff structure it is willing to approve.
The announced tariffs would not apply in Northern Ireland, fuelling fears the region would become a back-door smuggling route to Britain.
In Ireland, goods could travel freely from the republic into Northern Ireland without tariffs or customs checks as part of a “strictly temporary, unilateral approach” designed to avoid a hard border.