More like a CET piece than a new start

When the UK government started to work on its replacement for the Common European Tariff, it quickly became clear that nobody, least all the ministers in charge of the process had much idea of what needed to be done. They not only lacked a plan, they didn’t have a clue…

There is one tariff tweak in the UK schedule that makes sense: 0803 90 10 fresh bananas. In the CET this is set at EUR 114/100kg, to protect French banana growers in the Caribbean. For the UK Schedule, this duty has been revised downwards to GBP 95 / tonne in the UK schedule, reflecting the sort of opportunities that are available to a new third country. But it is an isolated example

A lot of commonplace ingredients remain barely touched, however. Take garlic, 0703 20 00: it faces an 8% ad valorem plus GBP 100/100 kg in the UK Schedule. Quite why the UK, which has no high profile garlic growers north of the Solent, should seek to make consumers pay through the nose for it, is a valid question. It may just turn out that Westminster needs the money and minimising the changes in the CET will generate a steady income stream. But that’s not what British voters were told to expect. For those who embraced the message “…sit back and enjoy the ride…” it is time to wake up and ask awkward questions. Like: “What’s going on with the economy?”

There is an oddity in Chapter 16, where three codes for luncheon meat get widely differing treatments for what are very similar industrial food products. Beef luncheon meat in cans (1602  90 69) attracts 16% ad valorem; porcine luncheon meat (1602 49 30) GBP 71/100kg, while 1602 31, turkey luncheon meat, faces duty at EUR 102.14/100kg or around GBP 1000/tonne. 
The UK online product description at the time of writing (June 2023) talked of an undercooked canned product that would fail every food safety check in the book. The whole point of the Appertisation process is that food undergoing the process is fully cooked to the core of the product. There is no such thing as a little bit unsafe in canning: it either is or is not fully cooked. Botulism is not a forgiving disease.

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