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  • Currently, 80 percent of all food imported by U.K. retailers comes from the EU

    Currently, 80 percent of all food imported by U.K. retailers comes from the EU | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 February 2020

The formal launch of negotiations on a new relationship after Britain left the EU will begin next month.

British consumers will face higher prices and reduced availability of goods if the government fails to agree on a post-Brexit tariff agreement with the European Union on regulatory controls at ports, the retail industry lobby warned Monday.

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The formal launch of negotiations on a new relationship after Britain left the EU will begin next month.

Britain was able to import and export goods without problems during its membership of the EU's Customs Union and Single Market. But the British Government said last week that new border controls will be needed to ensure that proper duties and taxes are collected and that the borders are kept secure after the 11-month transition period that ends on Dec. 31.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that without practical arrangements with the EU, companies could be required to produce lots of documents at border crossings. Documents like cargo details, health and veterinary documents, export health certificates, and security and safety permits, among others.

"The issue is simple, higher tariffs and extensive controls will hurt consumers, retailers and the UK economy. The government must set about negotiating a new tariff agreement that minimizes controls and bureaucracy, otherwise, consumers will suffer as a result," said BRC Executive Director Helen Dickinson.

Currently, 80 percent of all food imported by U.K. retailers comes from the EU.

BRC said the government must set up the import and export processes along with the infrastructure to carry out the necessary controls.

The lobby group also said that new staff will have to be recruited and trained to carry out these controls, while computer systems will have to be adapted and tested.

Truck storage facilities will also need to be built, particularly at the key ports of Dover and Folkestone in southern England.

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