How Brexit could bite the sandwich
June 20, 2019 -- If Britain leaves the EU without a deal, trade with the bloc will be bound by World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, under which imports and exports will be subject to “Most Favoured Nation (MFN)” tariffs.
Britain imports half of its food and 30 per cent comes from the EU. To illustrate the potential cost of WTO tariffs, we can look at their impact on the price of ingredients in a ham and salad “Brexit sandwich.” Some four billion sandwiches are consumed each year in the UK.
Under a no-deal scenario, a basket of pork, dairy and salad imports would be subject to an overall tariff of approximately 19 per cent. These MFN tariffs would range from €1,671 per tonne of cheese, €622 for butter, €240 for tomatoes, €206 for processed pork and €88 per tonne for lettuce.
The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) reports that Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium are the leading suppliers of pork products to the British market, while Ireland supplies both butter and cheddar cheese. Spain provides lettuce and tomatoes, the latter with the help of the Netherlands.
These levies would add €27.4 million to the current €141.9 million costs of the basket. While this would not mean a 19 per cent increase in food prices for consumers at the checkout, it could make the Brexit sandwich hard to swallow.