UK consumers hit by post-Brexit customs: retailers

Union flag-themed souvenirs are displayed for sale in a store in London after Britain became the first country to formally leave the EU. 

Union flag-themed souvenirs are displayed for sale in a store in London after Britain became the first country to formally leave the EU. 

AFP/Tolga Akmen

LONDON - British consumers will face higher prices and limited ranges of goods in the event of a return to customs controls after the Brexit transition period, an industry body warned Monday.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) issued the gloomy warning in a report entitled A Fair Deal for Consumers: EU Trade Roadmap -- which outlined its priorities for London's trade talks with Brussels.

Britain left the European Union on January 31 but remains bound by its rules in a transition period that expires at the end of this year, to allow both sides to negotiate a new trading relationship.

READ: Cheers and tears in UK as Brexit day finally dawns

"The roadmap calls for pragmatic solutions on future compliance and regulatory checks that will apply from January 2021," the BRC said Monday.

"Without these, consumers will face higher costs and reduced availability of goods."

The BRC highlighted that almost 80 percent of all food imported by British retailers comes from the European Union.

READ: Britain's years-long battle over Brexit

And the lion's share of those imports pass through Dover and Folkestone -- Britain's biggest ports -- on around 7,000 lorries every day.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU by the end of this year.

However, his Conservative government has warned businesses to prepare for stricter controls on goods coming from the European Union, saying that was an inevitable result of Brexit.

Source
AFP