The tariff proposals, which were published on Wednesday 13 March, contain changes that under normal circumstances, would go through rounds of public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny and be accompanied by detailed impact assessments.
Helen Dennis, Policy and Advocacy Manager at Fairtrade Foundation said:
“The government has clearly tried to balance the differing interests of UK producers, importers, consumers and developing countries, but without additional impact analysis it is hard to know whether they have got it right for global development. The Fairtrade Foundation welcomes the maintenance of tariff protection on some sensitive products like bananas to support vulnerable producers in Africa and the Caribbean. However, this now underlines the urgency of some of the so-called ‘roll-over’ deals that haven’t yet been signed. Without these deals, countries like Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and the Dominican Republic may not get the preferential access that they need.
By zero rating so many tariff lines, questions do have to be asked about the value of the UK’s duty-free, quota-free offer to LDCs and other developing countries. On the one hand, zero-rating all cut flowers, means that Kenya can continue to sell its roses tariff-free on the UK high street. However, there may also be some sectors where developing countries could encounter new competition as a result of these proposals. This is not the way in which we should be making trade policy. The UK must do better in ensuring that any independent trade policy is developed in a transparent and inclusive way, particularly when considering the lasting implications for people’s livelihoods. Developing country farmers are often the last to be consulted on changes like these, and the first to feel the effects.”