EU agriculture commissioner says UK customs plan violates WTO rules

JULIEN WARNAND

European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan at the start of the European Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers Council in Luxembourg.

EU agriculture commissioner says UK customs plan violates WTO rules


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The UK’s tariff system proposal is illegal, agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said last week.

The no-deal customs regime outlined by UK officials is admittedly “transitional”  and only meant to last for 12 months only – but is clearly disruptive.  What’s paramount, however, is that the UK’s tariff system proposal is illegal, according to agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.

As it now stands, the plan would introduce tariffs in 18% of EU products, down from the 100% duty-free regime that exists today.

The new regime envisages a 10% tariff on cars, beef, chicken, lamb, pork, fertilizers, and fuel. Other agricultural products, including eggs and cereals, as well as fruit and vegetables, will not be protected.

More controversially, under this transitional agreement, there would be no customs checks on the Irish border no matter what the place of origin of the transiting products happens to be. Theoretically, this could mean that Ireland becomes a backdoor to the UK market.

Addressing the press in Dublin, Hogan said that Brussels believes these proposals to be in violation of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which demand equal treatment for all trading partners. “Our initial assessment is that the proposal is illegal,” Hogan said, warning that the UK could be taken to a dispute settlement panel.

Hogan also warned that the UK needs EU approval for their WTO tariff schedules as they are a serious threat to Irish agriculture, which is heavily dependent on exports to the UK market.

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