Beef and lamb quotas and tariffs for exporting to the EU under WTO rules

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

By Rebecca Wright

At the time of writing, a ‘no-deal’ Brexit remains the default position for the UK as it leaves the EU, although that could change in the coming weeks. Under a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, UK exporters would face the EU’s most favoured nation (MFN) tariffs as agreed under membership of the WTO. However, they may be able to gain access to some of the “erga omnes” quotas allowing them to export meat into the EU at a reduced tariff rate. These quotas are open to all, and as such exporters from other countries are well practised at utilising them. Some of the quotas still have tariffs attached to them, but at a reduced rate, others attract no tariff at all. In addition to the quotas which are open to all, there are other quotas allocated to specific countries, such as the ‘hilton’ beef quota.

Outside of these tariff rate quotas (TRQs) there are higher tariffs to pay. Without a trade deal with the EU, UK exports to the EU would be subject to WTO most favoured nation’s tariffs as set by the EU. The biggest risk to trade is the need for the UK to be recognised by the EU as a third country. Currently, as of 5 March 2019, The UK is still waiting to be granted this status.

It is a common misconception that there are no tariffs on the export of live animals into the EU. Not only do live animals not intended for breeding face tariffs, but the EU is a net exporter of live animals and therefore in general demand for live animals is relatively poor.

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