Trade department's Brexit soy sauce price cut claim prompts backlash

25 Novembre, 2020, 03:39 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Unless Britain strikes a trade deal with the EU in the next 10 weeks — a negotiation which currently hangs in the balance — those imports will be subject to six per cent tariffs under World Trade Organisation terms. — AFP pic

Britain's Commerce Department was forced on Wednesday to clarify a claim that a trade deal with Japan would lower soy sauce prices without tariffs after critics pointed out that a no-deal Brexit could in fact drive up consumer prices.

Referencing Bake Off, a popular baking show, the department tweeted: "The bakers used a lot of soya sauce in the first challenge... so it's a good thing it will be made cheaper thanks to our trade deal with Japan".

Seasoned trade experts were quick to highlight that under the terms of Britain's exit deal from the EU, an EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement remains in force and no tariffs are now applicable on soy sauce imports from Japan into Britain.

David Henig, the United Kingdom director of policy think tank the European Centre for International Political Economy, tweeted: "Current tariff on soy sauce entering the United Kingdom from Japan - 0%".

So without the UK-Japan trade deal, imported Japanese soy sauce would have become more expensive from January. Its soy sauce is made in China and bottled in the UK so the UK-Japan deal will have no impact.

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"Not a good look when you can't trust a government social media account to tell the truth".

The department for global trade double-down, responding: "Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, the tariff on soya sauce is 6 per cent".

In response to the criticism, the department tweeted today: "To clarify: thanks to the UK-Japan trade deal, soya sauce will be cheaper than it otherwise would be under WTO (World Trade Organisation) terms, on which we would be trading with Japan from 1 Jan if we had not secured the UK-Japan trade deal". But the tariff payable on soy sauce imported from China will come down slightly from the 7.7% it was as part of the European Union to the UK's new rate of 6%.

Campaigner Femi said promoting the removal of non-existent tariffs was like "a thief going for a joy ride in your auto, bringing it back and wanting praise for not crashing it". "But what's most significant is that they are *already* reduced to casting imported soy sauce staying the same price as some sort of Brexit "win".

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