UK: Hard Brexit and its impacts on barley and malt trade

A withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union without any further regulations, referred to as Hard Brexit, will seriously impede the barley and malt trade between both sides. The EU has import duties of EUR 93 for barley and EUR 131 for malt which will also apply to UK products in less than three weeks, unless a regulated withdrawal agreement (Soft Brexit) or an extension of the period can be agreed at short notice. However, there are tariff-rate quotas (TRQ) on barley of 635.000 tons for the Ukraine and of 300,000 tons for all origins.

On the other hand, after a hard Brexit “the UK grain and oilseed rape market would be open to all global exporters after previously seeing protection from the EU’s tariffs and TRQ trade barriers. Domestic importers would face no extra costs to import from any origin worldwide for wheat, barley, maize and oilseeds,” according to a todays No Deal Tariff Announcement by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), a UK statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain.

The impacts of a hard Brexit for the barley and malt trade, where the UK is leaving both the single market and the customs union without any further regulations can hardly be foreseen at present, especially in the view that the UK seems totally unprepared for such a scenario.

However, in any case market experts like H.M. Gauger call for a reform of the existing regulations. “In view of the Brexit, isn’t it time to revise the whole tariff scheme?,” asks Gauger in his last market report. “Even for malt the present ‘prohibition’ tariffs of imports seem outdated, at a time, when the three largest maltsters of the world are French. Will the bureaucracy move? They should also not forget that since 40 years there exists an annual barley import tender, which concerns a non-existent product and has never been used. It should be abolished.”

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