Understanding the new UK General Tariff

18 Dec 2020

This information was taken from a member bulletin by Chris Buxton.

The government is being urged to amend specific tariffs by sectors that realise that the new UK Government Tariff will put them at a disadvantage in the event of no deal with the EU. For example, certain materials which are sourced from the EU which are not produced in the UK, will have tariffs from January, disadvantaging UK manufacturing if we move to WTO terms at the EU transition period.

But when Government says that we have ‘no-deal’ it doesn’t mean that they haven’t still agreed certain things. E.g. Deal or No-deal, the UKCA Mark will still apply so UK industry does need to prepare for it. So, irrespective of the outcome of the current negotiations; HMG has stated that from 1 January 2021;

…the UK will apply a UK-specific tariff to imported goods.  This UK Global Tariff (UKGT) will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff, which applies until 31 December 2020. The UKGT will apply to all goods imported into the UK unless:

  • an exception applies, such as a relief or tariff suspension
  • the goods come from countries that are part of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences
  • the country you’re importing from has a trade agreement with the UK

It only shows the tariffs that will be applied to goods at the border when they’re imported into the UK.

It does not cover:

  • other import duties, such as VAT
  • the precise details of trade remedy measures, such as anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguards

They then go onto say that: –

We have simplified and liberalised many tariffs on goods imported into the UK. Government amendments are highlighted in the ‘change’ column in the UK Global Tariff tool.

‘Liberalised’ means the tariff has been reduced to zero.

‘Simplified’ means the tariff has been rounded down or ‘banded’. For some complex tariffs this means the tariff is now expressed as a single percentage.

‘Reduced’ means the tariff has been lowered beyond the simplification measure.


In the link above, you will find the table to which they refer in their advice and the change column which indicates the current status of the tariff associated with each commodity.

(Where the change column reads; ‘Currency conversion’ it means that tariffs have been converted at an exchange rate of €1 = 0.83687 GBP. After this conversion, rates equal to or over £10 have been rounded down to the nearest whole pound. Rates under £10 have been rounded down to the nearest 10 pence.)

To this extent, there are some products; (for example, brass wire very widely used in the communications industry which we don’t produce), which are going to be subject to a tariff under the new UKGT. This will make the UK products less competitive or force providers to swallow smaller margins.   The relevant Trade Association is lobbying against such tariffs and should be successful.

Two more useful links on this topic are:-