Tariffs could be axed on various imports under Government proposals
Household products including bicycle pumps and pencils could have their import tariffs removed under Government proposals for post-Brexit trade agreements.
The Department for International Trade has launched a public consultation to gather views on whether it should simplify its tariff policy to ensure greater choice and lower prices for consumers.
Among options being considered by the Government are proposals to remove tariffs of less than 2.5% and rounding tariffs down to the nearest 2.5%, 5% or 10% band.
Goods such as fire extinguishers, pencils, bike pumps and some household fridges currently have tariffs below 2.5% and therefore could see them removed.
Ministers are also seeking views on whether to remove tariffs on inputs to production – such as raw materials for construction or bolts for machines – in a bid to reduce costs for UK manufacturers.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “The UK has left the EU and it is time for us to look forward to our future as an independent, global champion of free trade.
“It is vitally important that we now move away from the complex tariff schedule imposed on us by the European Union.
“High tariffs impinge on businesses and raise costs for consumers. This is our opportunity to set our own tariff strategy that is right for UK consumers and businesses across our country.
“I am calling on people, businesses and civil society groups to seize this opportunity to take part in our consultation and tell us what would work best for them.”
In a separate written statement to the Commons, Ms Truss said the UK will “drive a hard bargain” in its trade negotiations, and is “prepared to walk away if that is in the national interest”.
The Cabinet minister said it is a “key priority” of the Government to “deepen trade and investment relationships with like-minded partners, starting with the USA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand”.
She added: “These bilateral negotiations will also be a potential stepping-stone to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
She said the UK would seek to secure “comprehensive, far-reaching and mutually beneficial tariff reductions” – taking into account sensitive UK products – in a free trade agreement with the US.
She went on: “This market access will be further supported through the FTA by efficient, predictable, and transparent customs procedures, with a reduction in technical barriers to trade.
“The FTA will aim to remove measures that currently restrict UK trade and to prevent their imposition in future, while upholding the safety and quality of products on the UK market.”
But she insisted the NHS will not be “on the table” in trade talks.
She said: “The Government has been clear that when we are negotiating trade deals, the NHS will not be on the table.
“The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table. The services the NHS provides will not be on the table.
“We will not agree measures which undermine the Government’s ability to deliver on our manifesto commitments to the NHS.
“As we committed to in our manifesto, in all of our trade negotiations we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.”