EU sets down new import tariff rate quotas post-Brexit

The European Union has published a revision of its tariff rate quotas that will apply after Brexit, which will dictate how much agricultural produce they import from countries outside the block.

The new quotas will reflect how much produce the EU will import, when Britain’s current share of imports is discounted.

The methodology for calculating the EU’s new tariff rate quota involves subtracting Britain’s imports – over a three year period – from the EU’s total imports for each individual product.

Due to the variation in what Britain imports, the EU will not be reducing its tariff rate quota on every product; for example, the amount of live cattle it will accept will remain at 100% of its current amount.

The new tariff rate quotas will not only depend on the type of produce, but also on the the country it comes from, with different rates depending on how much of that country’s trade is currently with Britain.

The EU has also said that it may be necessary to set those tariffs in place unilaterally, without fully negotiating these new values with the ‘third countries’ it imports from.

This is because of the short window of time between now and Brexit, with the EU saying it must set the new tariffs in place before World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs apply to Britain, which would be the scenario in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

This, the EU says, is to “ensure legal certainty and the continuous smooth operation of imports under the tariff rate quotas to the Union and to the United Kingdom”.


Although there are a number of factors in calculating the EU’s new tariff rate quota for a product after Britain’s share is subtracted, the basic methodology, before anything else in considered, is relatively straightforward.

Britain’s total imports of a product over a three-year period are expressed as a percentage of the EU’s total imports of the same product during the same period of time.

That percentage is then applied to the tariff rate quota, with that figure assumed to be Britain’s share, while the remainder becomes the new tariff rate quota for the EU.

Notable examples

Some notable examples of tariff rate quotas being reduced include beef and edible offal from Australia; the EU will take less than 35% of the amount it imports currently, after the new rate is applied.

Beef from New Zealand will also face a considerable cut in its tariff rate quota, with the EU taking just over 65% of its current level of imports post-Brexit.

Pork produce from the USA will have a new tariff rate quota of 36% of its current levels, while sheep or goat meat from Australia will be capped at 20% current levels.

Also, sheep produce from New Zealand will have its current tariff rate quota cut exactly in half.