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UK set to cut food tariffs to ease cost of living pressures

City AM logo City AM 30/06/2022 Stefan Boscia

The UK is set to cut tariffs on imported food in a bid to ease the cost of living crisis, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister said products the UK does not produce – like oranges, rice, olives and bananas – could see price cuts in the coming months by slashing tariffs on foreign imports.

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Johnson said at the Nato summit in Madrid that the UK had “food tariffs we don’t need” and that he has launched a review into dropping trade barriers.

He said there was a “new impetus” among world leaders “to cut food tariffs — [there are] $750 billion worth of food tariffs around the world”.

The Prime Minister added: “We’ve got food tariffs we don’t need … do we in the UK need to have tariffs on oranges?

“We don’t grow many bananas in the UK.”

Video: UK inflation hits 40-year record, highest in G7 (Reuters)

The intervention comes after annual inflation hit a 40-year high last month of 9.1 per cent.

This was partly driven by prices for food and non-alcoholic drinks climbing by 8.7 per cent in the 12 months to May, thanks in large part to the war in Ukraine.

Global supplies of wheat and sunflower oil have been severely disrupted by Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.

The UK has a standard tariff of 12 per cent on all imported goods which are not covered by trade agreements.

This means that products like oranges and bananas are hit with a tax of 12 per cent even though there are no orange or banana farmers in the UK to protect.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has come out against lowering tariffs on food.

NFU president Minette Batters last month said: “Just lowering the tariff wall does not even begin to deal with the problem. It is a very complex problem that needs long-term strategy put in place to deal with the short-, medium- and long-term.

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“It is misleading to consumers to just think ‘lower the tariff wall’ and that sorts the issue.”

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