Responding to claims in a new report by the House of Lords’ EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee that post-Brexit trade barriers threaten to disrupt the EU supply of food to the UK and increase costs for consumers, Professor Patrick Minford, Chairman of Economists for Free Trade, said:
“When Britain leaves the EU, we will be able to enjoy free trade through Free Trade Agreements with the rest of the world, where major exporters such as the US, Australia and New Zealand will make available excellent and varied food supply at world prices. These will be below current prices which are inflated by EU protection to the extent of around 20 per cent. Removing this EU protection will give us a 4 per cent gain in GDP, and an 8 per cent fall in consumer prices. This will include the immediate fall in food prices by 20 per cent as EU protection is ended and tariffs on food imported from outside the EU are cut.
“The House of Lords, civil servants and parts of the media have largely ignored these positive effects of widespread Free Trade Agreements. At the same time they have assumed that trade barriers with the EU will rise sharply even though the government aims to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with the EU – so avoiding not only tariffs but also non-tariff barriers which themselves would be discriminatory and therefore illegal under WTO rules.
“What they are completely missing also is that once Free Trade Agreements are in place with the rest of the world, we will have access to cheaper and equally high quality food from all over the world. Food producers from the EU will then have to cut prices to stay competitive; they will not be in a position to raise prices in Britain.
“The Lords seem to have completely forgotten how much food Britain used to import from the rest of the world.”