Behind the Headlines

“Price of Fish & Chips could rocket after Brexit.’’

Written on 11/29/2018

© Andrew Dunn, [CC BY-SA 2.0 (]

What’s the story?

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the nation’s favourite dish could increase in price due to import tariffs on European seafood. Cod could face tariffs of up to 18%, depending on the deal reached between the UK and the EU. Read more in the Metro here.

How reliable is it?

Reliable. If the UK pursues a ‘hard Brexit’ and leaves the Customs Union, as the government intends, trade tariffs (import taxes) on cod to comply with WTO rules could be as high as 18%.  In addition, leaving the single market and diverging from common European rules on hygiene, packaging etc will also trigger additional border clearance procedures adding to costs.

What’s the background?

  • The UK imports most of the cod and haddock that it consumes, while its top three domestic catches (mackerel, langoustine and scallops) are exported. Evidence

  • At present, such imports and exports are frictionless within the EU, as there are no tariffs and we operate according to the same agreed rules and standards.

  • For trade with countries outside the EU, the EU operates on a three-year system of Autonomous Tariff Quotas, which allow specific quantities of key species to enter the EU at reduced or zero tariffs. Evidence

  • Possible future tariffs on UK cod hinge upon the whether the UK signs Free Trade Agreements with the EU and third countries, otherwise tariffs would be defined by the WTO rules, known as Most-Favoured-Nation (MFN) status. Evidence

  • The EU’s current MFN tariffs on cod imports range from 7.5% to 18%. Evidence

  • In order to maintain zero, or low-tariff seafood trade following Brexit, the UK would also have to negotiate an FTA with the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway. Evidence

  • Meanwhile, the fall in the value of the pound relative to euro, caused by the prospect of Brexit, has already made imported fish more expensive. Evidence

  • Finally, non-tariff barriers could also increase the price of fish, as additional food safety measures and customs clearance procedures would also increase costs and delays for the UK-EU trade in seafood. Evidence