New evidence from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) shows the importance to UK consumers of maintaining the benefits of trade deals the EU has negotiated with other countries.

As a member of the EU, the UK currently benefits from zero- or low-rate tariffs on various imports from trade deals that the EU has negotiated with third countries. From the day after the UK leaves the EU, on 30th March 2019, it will no longer be covered by these international agreements, so imported goods will be subject to higher tariffs and potential customs barriers. For consumers this means higher prices.

Using import data from UK retailers, the BRC has identified the countries where negotiating replica trade agreements will make the most difference to ensure prices do not rise immediately on exit.

These deals are particularly important for the price of food and clothing for UK shoppers. Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the BRC, says: “Now that an agreement has been reached to move the negotiations onto trade, the focus must be on securing the continuity of free trade with Europe, alongside replicating these existing agreements with countries outside of the EU. These are the crucial next steps that Government needs to take to avoid a cliff-edge situation on Brexit day and to deliver a fair Brexit for consumers.”