British businesses didn’t get much chance to feed into the debate over tariffs.
It was deemed to be too market-sensitive to embrace a proper consultation so today’s announcement caught many on the hop.
Over breakfast this morning, they’ve been digesting the impact of tariffs that could, in theory, come into play at the end of the month.
First up, this would be a big cultural change for British business.
The World Trade Organisation setting the framework instead of the EU.
Greater access to a global market, less to Europe.
These tariffs play into that – more tariffs on European imports than those from the rest of the world. That’s a massive change, and one whose ramifications will take time to work through.
For some, there will be relief – sheep farmers keep their protection thanks to high tariffs.
Beef, lamb, poultry and some dairy products get protection.
Car manufacturers will be pleased that parts brought in from the EU will be tariff-free.
For others, great concern.
If you sell cars imported into this country from Europe, then you’re now facing the prospect that the price will go up by 10%. Cars brought in from Japan will become slightly cheaper, while the price of those coming in from South Korea will depend on whether or not the Government can roll over its existing trade deal.
But it’s the big price increase for European models that will attract most attention.
When I was at the Geneva Motor Show last week, a series of bosses told me that they couldn’t possibly afford to absorb a price hike like that, so drivers would either have to pay more or, perhaps more likely, the price point would be maintained by offering smaller models, or ones with lower specification.
Steel tariffs have been cut, too. Worth noting there’s a lot of cheap steel in the world at the moment.
The ceramics industry has some protection, but not as much as it wanted – just six areas instead of the present 50.
All in all, it’s a mixed picture, but also a disconcerting one.
After years of fruitlessly asking for certainty and clarity, many across British business will again feel that they’ve been presented with a complex, brave new world – and a headache.
If these rules come in at the end of the month, it’s hard to think anyone will be ready.
(c) Sky News 2019: No-deal Brexit tariffs: The winners and losers