Tariffs would remain in a no-deal Brexit, business secretary Greg Clark said today after reports that fellow cabinet member Liam Fox would slash import duties in such a scenario.
Speaking to the Business, energy and industrial strategy select committee this morning, Clark said he would examine such a policy but that it could have a detrimental impact on sectors like the steel industry.
“In general, with our European partners, of course they should be zero, we want to preserve that, we don’t want to have any disruption on trade,” Clark said.
“There are some industries, take the ceramics industry for example which I think has a very important future as well being important now, there has been some very aggressive anti-competitive dumping from China, in particular, and we need to retain the defences on that.”
Saying that zero-tariffs is not an agreed government position, Clark added: “There is a process in government to take opinions of colleagues across government and to propose a policy collectively.”
Fox today denied he would want no tariffs whatsoever, but said there are a range of options that could be considered.
“Unilateral liberalisation is not what I would propose and I have not actually heard anyone else in government propose it,” he told MPs.
Clark also defended the £80m support package he offered to Nissan in 2016 if it built the X-Trail in Sunderland, now Nissan is set to move production to Japan.
“We initially applied for £80m of support for funds and training and all the rest of it - what was approved by the authorities was £61m so I have no ability to provide any funds myself,” he said.