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How will Brexit affect trade with China?

With the 29 March deadline now upon us amazingly we still don’t know what form Brexit will take, or indeed if it will happen at all. This has caused well documented problems for many businesses. For businesses which trade overseas this is a particular problem today. There are many ships on the high seas today bound for the UK and the owners will not know what rate of duty will be applied to their goods when they land in the UK. A truly appalling state of affairs.
However as the saying goes ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ and in the case of China it may even be a gold one! In the event the UK stays in the EU or if the UK leaves with an agreement keeping us in the customs union then trade with China will remain the same for as long as that agreement lasts.

However should we leave with no deal all that will change. The government have recently produced a list of tariffs they intent to impose on imports in the event of a no deal Brexit. The full list can be seen here: What is interesting is the list is very short with only a small number of the vast array of goods imported being listed. For the remainder of the goods not on the list the duty applied will be 0%. The government website helpfully informs us that this will be a temporary measure which will be reviewed over the coming year.

What does this mean in practice? For many goods which currently suffer a duty of anywhere between 4- 20% this will reduce to zero – great news for businesses relying on imports and hopefully good news from customers too. But the real bonus will be for goods currently penalised by EU anti dumping measures which impose swinging rates of duty of 70% or more on a wide range of products including China. These will also, it would appear drop to 0%. For importers and customers this is truly a cloud with a golden lining. It will include products such as fine bone China (which was invented and has it’s origins in Jiangxi province, China), so maybe it’s time to sit back, and watch the antics of our Westminster politicians, relaxing with a nice cup of tea.