This week the UK will publish its tariffs schedule under a World Trade Organization Brexit. The row in Downing Street will be over how many zero tariff industries the UK creates under a WTO Brexit. This is an opportunity for the UK to control our terms of trade and independently secure our prosperous future, says Joel Casement.
A WTO Brexit would give us full control over our borders, money and laws. We would trade and operate like every other country in the world, as WTO is the default trading position of the international community. We would establish trade arrangements which are to our advantage, and engage with the world in a way which fully demonstrates Britain’s innovation and openness to free trade.
The EU negotiates trade deals either directly with other countries or through its membership of the World Trade Organisation. The WTO is the only international organization dealing with multinational trade issues and the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. These rules are naturally suited to ensuring Britain will go into a WTO Brexit with low or zero tariffs which will be beneficial for the UK’s economy. Goods will enter the UK more cheaply, and industries which Britain wants to foster, it can protect.
‘Project Fear’ continually pushes the line of Britain being dependent on the EU, which is simply not the case. In 2017 exports of goods and services to the EU accounted for just 13.4% of the British economy. According to the EU Commission, over the next 10-15 years 90% of world growth will come from outside Europe. The UK, by opening ourselves up to the rest of the world, will boost and broaden our range of exports.
The MP Sir John Redwood has been a particular champion of a WTO Brexit, claiming leaving the EU would allow the UK to look again at “rather penal” import tariffs set by Brussels. Under a WTO Brexit there would be no 21-month Transition Period, or the £39 billion ‘divorce’ bill to pay for leaving the EU. The UK would revert to WTO rules on trade, and would have a £39 billion boost. Combined with WTO Rules, who could ask for a better start as an independent free trading nation on Brexit day.
Britain leaving the EU will greatly favour a trade deal with the United States. US President Donald Trump said on the 15th February, US trade with the UK will rise “very substantially after Brexit”. We are in a prime position to increase our trade with the US as the EU imposes up to 25% tariffs on US imports on goods such as clothes, vehicles and cosmetics. There are 341 different kinds of products from the US which are affected by tariffs. After Brexit, the Great British Public will benefit from cheaper goods from the US, the world’s largest economy.
EU tariffs raise the price of every day goods in ways the public have not been made aware. For example, the EU imposes a massive 11.5% tariff on coffee, which many Britons use every day. Its price will be significantly reduced, and this is just a single example of how the day to day lives of Britons are made better once we are free of the EU’s restrictive tariffs. The former vice-president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar wrote that refined sugar from Nigeria faces a tariff of more than 300% if it’s exported to the EU. This is an example of how the EU damages the growth of developing nations through its tariff schedule.
The EU is highly protective of its own industries, for example, the average tariffs on dairy products are 54%, on sugar 31% and on cereals 22%. This greatly increases the price of imports for EU citizens.
The UK’s fishing industry is just one of the many industries which will prosper from a WTO Brexit, and regaining full and unfettered control over British waters. Our fishermen will benefit from being outside the Common Fisheries Policy, and will be able to fish in a way which optimises British needs, instead of those of EU nations, such as France. The EU as a net fish importer will still be able to purchase British fish, but we would be able to set our own prices and supply. The EU’s demand for fish is high, so British fishermen will get a better price for their fish, making their work more profitable, and regenerating huge areas of our coastline, which has suffered as a result of this industry being controlled by the EU.
British agriculture and farming will also benefit from a WTO Brexit as superior British beef will command a better price globally. We would no longer be restricted to an EU market which, through the Common Agricultural Policy, disadvantages British farmers. The EU and the UK began to phase out agricultural export subsidies in 2015. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has called for the Chancellor Philip Hammond to release more No Deal funding to British farmers so they can meet the demand of the world when we leave the EU. A WTO Brexit will mean Britain can determine its own level of subsidies: supporting the goods we wish to support and protecting ourselves against goods which would damage the UK’s agricultural sector.
A WTO Brexit will benefit Britain and its newfound freedom from the EU’s tariff regime. Tariffs reduce competition and the EU’s tariff structure is not in the UK’s best interest and does not favour the UK economy. When we Get Britain Out of the EU, we will be able to control our trade and tariffs with the rest of the world. This is how we will build an economically prosperous Global Britain post Brexit, which delivers low prices on imports and better prices for British farmers and fishermen.