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Rushing tariff cuts for 'no deal' Brexit leaves no time to analyse winners or losers

Posted by Warwick Business School at 07 March 2019, 00:20 CET |
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Expert comment from Nigel Driffield, professor of international business at Warwick Business School

"There have been suggestions that the government will unilaterally cut tariffs in the event of a no deal Brexit.

"It is fair to say that this would be done in a hurry, with no clear thought of the likely winners and losers.

"The current mantra is that, "free trade is good, what's the problem?" However "free trade" does not, for example, mean importing cheap subsidised steel made with dirty subsidised cheap energy, or items produced with very low labour standards, to allow the bad to drive out the good.

"When we last did trade policy, we did detailed cost benefit analysis of where we expected to gain, and where we expected to lose. Leaving with no deal in a few weeks would leave no time for that analysis.

"Certain sectors (agriculture) are already expressing concern about this, and the food sector has already highlighted different standards in some parts of the world.

"What is also omitted from this debate is the fact that "everything but arms" already facilitates tariff free access to our markets for developing countries, so the idea that this move will make food much cheaper, or be "fairer" to African farmers, is largely a myth."

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