The cost of food imported from the EU has soared because of extra red tape, an LSE study finds
Leaving the European Union added an average of £210 ($258) to British household food bills over the two years to the end of 2021, new research from the London School of Economics’ (LSE) Centre for Economic Performance has found.
According to the research published on Thursday, Brexit cost British consumers a total of £5.8 billion ($7 billion). The study confirmed that food bills soared 6%, hitting low-income households hardest. Brexit-induced price rises added 1.1% to their total cost of living – more than the 0.7% increase felt by wealthier households.
The report highlighted that the rise in consumer prices was driven by products with high non-tariff barriers, while there was no significant rise in those with low non-tariff barriers. That could mean that EU exporters and UK importers faced higher costs due to the new barriers, 50% to 88% of which they passed on to consumers, it said.
Trade between the UK and the EU remains tariff-free under the rules of the Brexit agreement. However, extensive customs checks, rules of origin requirements and sanitary measures for trade in animals and plants have been adding to the pressure on importers and exporters.
The LSE study also found that, while domestic UK food producers have benefited from less competition, their gains were outstripped by consumer losses to the tune of over £1 billion ($1.2 billion). Moreover, the gains did not generate any revenue for the government.
“In leaving the EU, the UK swapped a deep trade relationship with few impediments to trade for one where a wide range of checks, forms and steps are required before goods can cross the border,” wrote Richard Davies, a professor at Bristol University and co-author of the study.
He pointed out that the UK inflation rate rose above 11% in 2022, the highest rate in 40 years.
Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016, which was followed by several years of tense negotiations before it officially left the union in January 2020, and exited the single market and customs union in January 2021.
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