Brexit: Keith Prince discusses UK trade
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The Institute of Economic Affairs says the UK should “embrace a new radical free trade policy” and not put red tape obstacles in the way of EU-made goods coming into the country – even if the EU does not reciprocate. Under current plans, from next year goods going on sale in great Britain that previously had to feature the CE marking to show they conformed with EU standards will need to have a “UKCA” (UK Conformity Assessed) marking. The IEA argues this will lead to duplication and hike up costs and says goods from countries with equivalent safety standards should not face red tape obstacles.
Victoria Hewson, the author of the report, said: “Regulatory barriers to trade inflict a significant cost on consumers and are as damaging to free trade as tariffs. The UK has an opportunity to lead the world with a radical trade policy of recognising regulations, without requiring reciprocity, starting with the EU.
“This will transform the UK’s trade policy, ensuring goods which emulate our own standards are traded freely into the UK without unnecessary regulatory barriers. This will bolster the UK’s status as a free trading nation and help towards a solution to the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute”.
The report has been welcomed by Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency.
He said: “Anyone who believes in free trade will welcome this report. Non-tariff barriers are the delight of protectionists and should be removed wherever possible.”
The IEA says that the “cost of non-tariff barriers has been estimated as equivalent to a tariff of up to 20 percent on some goods” and states that “recognition of regulations should, therefore, be considered just as important as tariff elimination”.
Pressing for Britain to continue to recognise the CE mark, it argues that “this policy should be adopted for all international trade where the rules of the exporting country meet the UK’s standards, bolstering the UK’s credentials as a free trading nation”.
Ms Hewson said: “For now, the UK still recognises EU rules, to reduce the burden on traders, but this is set to change next year. People are worried that it’s unfair that the EU has barriers to our exports but we are making it easy to import EU goods, but that thinks about it in the wrong way.
“Trade barriers are bad for the people in the country that has them, they are also bad for companies that rely on imports in their supply chains, like manufacturers. The UK should take an independent, pro-consumer approach and keep on accepting EU goods alongside UK regulated goods, for as long as we know we can trust EU goods.
“The same goes for other countries too, if the regulations in a country are good enough, we should recognise them and allow consumers to choose the products they prefer.”
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