Key seafood species are tariff-free under no deal - but cars face prices hike

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 14 Mar 2019

Grimsby's seafood processing industry could emerge largely unscathed from potential no-deal tariffs.

While votes last night demonstrated the will of MPs to not leave without an agreement with the EU, the default position means it is still a possibility - for now. 

Frozen and fresh cod and haddock coming from Iceland and Norway – where 80 per cent of the raw fish that is processed in Grimsby originates from – will continue to be traded tax-free in a hard Brexit outcome, the Department for International Trade announced.

Ivan Bartolo, a trade expert at industry body Seafish, said: "It doesn’t look like there will be any form of tariff punishment.

"A lot of businesses in the Humber really depends on having an uninterrupted supply of fresh and frozen white fish and it looks like this is going to be able to carry on without any additional tariffs."

It eases concerns expressed at the UK Seafood Summit, held in Scunthorpe in October, where initial technical notifications from Government issued in August were digested. 

While additional charges won't be faced, frictionless trade remains a serious issue, with days in transit hitting shelf life - so too labour - with studies finding  30 per cent of the workforce are economic migrants. 

New Fisheries Minister Robert Goodwill said: "In the temporary tariff regime, the majority of imports, including fish imports, would be tariff-free. There would be some product exemptions, including for tuna and warm water prawns where preferential access to the UK market is important for developing countries."

As reported, a deal with the Faroe Islands, another country Grimsby’s sector imports from, has also been struck, allowing almost all seafood produce bought from the 'stop off' nation between Iceland and the Humber, to be transported without tariffs.

Grimsby MP Melanie Onn welcomed the deal during the fisheries debate in Parliament yesterday, Wednesday, and urged the Government to secure arrangements with other main suppliers of the town’s seafood hub.

She said: "Those companies that rely on importing say we have to focus on deals with major suppliers like Iceland, Norway and even Canada if we are to see a seamless transition post-Brexit."

The majority of tariffs would be dropped to zero in the event of no-deal, meaning 86 per cent of all products entering the UK – up from 80 per cent as an EU member – would do so without incurring an import charge.

But the Department for International Trade has opted to protect some industries by slapping on tariffs, including on cars, a major trade for Grimsby and Immingham.

The cost of buying-in an average family hatchback will rise by about £1,500 per vehicle after the UK announced it would slap tariffs of 10.6 per cent on the cost of "fully finished" cars imported from the EU.

Volkswagen Group, BMW and Mercedes are major importers from the EU, with a £26 million Grimsby River Terminal opened in 2013 to future-proof the town's logistics operations. 

Extra vehicles are already being held in the town, with ABP having extended its footprint to take in the former Hunstsman Tioxide site, with German made-models now stored there.

About 500,000 cars enter the UK via the Humber ports annually, with BMW also investing in a state-of-the-art handling facility at North Killingholme.

Whether an uplift in ticket price turns British buyers to British brands, we will have to wait and see, with parts also exempt.

However, Toyota, a major user of Grimsby for exports to Europe, last week issued a stark warning that new models may not be built in the country if no-deal is the result. 

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