Impact of tariffs and tariff rate quotas (TRQs) on beef and sheepmeat trade

Thursday, 18 July 2019

When assessing the effect of a No Deal Brexit on UK beef and sheepmeat trade, the change in tariffs and TRQs need to be a key consideration.  

UK imports

Currently, although subject to change, the UK has set out its tariffs/TRQs position in the event of no deal. Imports from the EU are likely to be at a disadvantage if UK tariffs become applicable. As can be seen in the table below, the UK’s No Deal import tariffs will have a greater effect on imports from the EU27 than from other geographies. This is primarily due to the fixed component of the UK tariff having a greater impact on the lower priced EU products than higher value non-EU products.

Impact of UK tariffs (in AVE terms) on imported trade for selected commodities

Imports of some product categories (e.g. chilled lamb carcases and half-carcases), do not come from non-EU countries, partly due to the distances involved making it uneconomical.

UK exports

While tariffs on products coming into the country could see a change in trade patterns/UK competitiveness, it will be tariffs imposed on UK products leaving the country that will have the greatest impact. This is again as a result of the fixed component of proposed tariff rates.

Impact of selected country tariffs on UK exports for selected commodities

Looking at tariffs alone, this has the potential to make some of our exports massively uncompetitive. New markets and/or different UK consumer habits would be needed, both process that take some time. Additional data on how No Deal Brexit could affect beef and sheepmeat products can be viewed on our website.


When discussing trade, tariffs tend to take pole position, however, TRQs also form a major part of the picture. Market access for imports of beef into the UK will increase for non-EU countries if a No Deal Brexit comes to pass. At the same time, exports of beef to the EU would be severely cut as the TRQs available would be insufficient and specification restrictions could also inhibit value adding opportunities.

Sheepmeat trade will be even more severely impacted. Access to the EU would almost completely collapse, facing the same tariff rates as any other non-EU country without preferential access. Meanwhile, imports from non-EU countries (predominantly New Zealand and Australia) would remain at similar levels to present.

For further details on the impact of tariffs and TRQs on beef and sheepmeat trade under different Brexit scenarios, please refer to the report by The Andersons Centre, on behalf of the AHDB.