The UK government on Tuesday October 8th revised the temporary tariff regime that would apply in the event of no-deal Brexit, making 88% of total imports by value eligible for levy free access, Reuters reported.
This new regime, announced at 7am, is a victory for the Treasury, which wanted to keep tariffs low in the event of a no-deal exit to avoid fuelling inflation in a highly unstable economic situation.
The UK government also said that under a new "exceptional review process" it could make changes to the regime from day one if necessary, seeking to balance the need to keep consumer prices down without destroying domestic producers.
"The UK is a free trading nation and British business is in a strong position to compete in an open, free-trading environment," Trade Policy Minister Conor Burns said.
With just 23 days to go before the UK is due to leave the European bloc, with no-deal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is accelerating preparation for a potentially chaotic exit.
London first published a temporary tariff regime in March, as part of its preparations to leave a bloc it joined in 1973. It applied import duties to 13% of goods, including some meat and dairy products, vehicles, ceramics and fertilisers.
Burns said tariffs would be applied to additional clothing products to “ensure the preferential access to the UK market currently available to developing countries, compared to other countries, is maintained.”
The government has left some protections in place for British producers, for instance carmakers and farmers, while many other industries will face cheaper competition from abroad.
Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, announced some changes to the original tariff plan, including higher tariffs to protect companies making bioethanol.
Truss had argued that the “temporary” tariffs should be higher on the grounds that it would be harder for the UK to negotiate trade deals with third countries if it had already removed its tariff barriers.
“Once you’ve cut tariffs to a very low level, even on a temporary basis, it would be hard to put them back again,” said one trade department official.
The proposed tariffs for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) entering the UK market have been cut after the haulage industry said the original plan would add £15,000 to the cost of the average truck.