Food: Import Duties

Treasury written question – answered on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Tebbit Lord Tebbit Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the categories of food materials and products subject to import taxes or duties imposed by the EU.

Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development

The EU Common External Tariff applies to all EU members.

The Tariff is the name given to the combination of the nomenclature (or classification of goods) and the duty rates which apply to each category of goods. The duty rates differ from one kind of good to another depending on what they are and where they come from. The rates also depend on the economic sensitivity of the goods.

The EU uses the World Customs Organisation’s Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) as the basis for the Tariff. The HS comprises approximately 5,300 article/product descriptions that appear as headings and subheadings, arranged in 99 chapters, grouped in 21 sections.

The EU Tariff contains the goods classification table which covers all categories of goods and the conventional import duty rates. The table is voluminous. It lists around 9500 classification codes. Food materials and products are found in Chapters 1 to 24. The type of product, the ingredients list or materials used to make it, the recipe and even the production method can affect the classification of a good.

The EU Tariff is available to view on the EU Europa website. To get the full picture, the EU’s tariff database (TARIC) is also available to view and contains all the tariff preference and trade measures.

In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal the UK Trade Tariff, detailing the goods classification codes and duty rates for UK imports will be available, as now, on GOV.UK. Importers of goods into the UK will no longer use EU Tariff information published by the EU.

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