British manufacturing sounds alarm bells at zero tariffs

20th February 2019

Business leaders and trade unions are warning Government to stop gambling with Britain’s world-leading manufacturing sectors, and dismiss talk of zero tariffs.

The Manufacturing Trade Remedies Alliance, (MTRA) made up of eight national trade associations three trade unions and the TUC, is calling on politicians to rethink plans for a wholesale reduction in import tariffs.

In the event of a no-deal, politicians are considering zero most favoured nation tariffs to lower prices on consumer goods, but the move could ruin the home market for many sectors. Increased imports would flood the market, jeopardising tens of thousands of jobs and fundamentally changing the British economy.

Ian Cranshaw, Head of International Trade at the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) said: “The idea of a new tariff regime is something which should be subject to proper consultation. With less than 40 days to Brexit British manufacturers already dealing with Brexit uncertainties are now having to assess how their business might be impacted by an increase in non-EU competition should the government remove MFN tariffs on key chemical products.

Jude Brimble, GMB National Secretary, said: “Zero tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit is a short-sighted move. While it may lower prices in the short term, it will ultimately put thousands of British manufacturing jobs at risk.

“Manufacturers are often based in the heart of their communities and supporting many more indirect and supply chain jobs.
“Zero tariffs could destroy the proud history of making and manufacturing in Britain.”

Laura Cohen, Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation and Chair of the Manufacturing Trade Remedies Alliance, said: “Government needs to consult properly with businesses and trade unions. Jobs, communities and the economy are at stake. This cuts to the heart of the sort of country we want.

“Our domestic market would be jeopardised at the same time as our export markets would be subject to additional tariffs, for example 12% on tableware going into Europe, where previously it would have been zero.

“No tariffs makes the UK’s emerging trade remedies system ineffective from the outset by lowering the duty paid on dumped imports.

“MTRA member companies and unions are asking Government to act to secure this vital part of the economy, in the event of a no-deal Brexit and reconsider zero-tariffs.”

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “Ending all tariffs in a no deal Brexit would be a further hammer blow to our manufacturing industries and the communities they support.

“Government must not show such reckless disregard for people’s jobs.

“The Prime Minister must act now to rule out a no-deal Brexit and ditch her destructive red lines, which threaten working people’s jobs and rights.”



Notes to Editors

About Us

The Manufacturing Trade Remedies Alliance (MTRA) is made up of the following organisations:

Agricultural Industries Confederation; British Ceramic Confederation; British Glass; Chemical Industries Association; Confederation of Paper Industries; Mineral Products Association; Renewable Energy Association; UK Steel; Community; GMB; TUC; and Unite

For further information please contact: 

Ciara Jagger, Publicity and Project Officer, c/o British Ceramic Confederation, Federation House, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2SA.

Tel:  01782 572851 M: 07535 084055