Wednesday 17 February 2021 / 7:14 PM Emily Thornberry / Rachel Reeves

Government finally admits ‘non-tariff barriers’ are holding back British businesses 

Government finally admits ‘non-tariff barriers’ are holding back British businesses 

  For the first time, the government has admitted that Boris Johnson’s deal with the EU has created “non-tariff trading barriers”, which are driving up the cost of exporting to European markets. The admission came in an updated assessment from Liz Truss’s Department of International Trade on the risks of doing business in Ireland.  

 The document, published this morning on the department’s website, says: “Some supply-chain challenges and non-tariff trading barriers have also emerged during the transition to UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement terms in early 2021. Respected sources forecast that the Consumer Price Index may increase by up to 2% as a result.” 

 The admission starkly contradicts the statement by Boris Johnson after the EU deal was announced that “there will be no non-tariff barriers to trade”, and the assertion made by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, that the problems affecting trade across the Irish Sea were down to Covid. 

Responding to the admission, Shadow International Trade Secretary, Emily Thornberry and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves said:   

“This government has left British businesses high and dry, not just by giving them barely any time to prepare for the end of the transition period, but by wrapping them in reams of costly new red tape and bureaucracy. 

“Now they’ve admitted what has been clear for weeks – that there are in fact non-tariff barriers to trade with Europe, holding back exporters already under huge strain from the pandemic. 

“The government must urgently listen to our businesses, cut the red tape and plug the gaps in the deal to stop holding back our economic recovery.” 



Notes to Editors: 

 The Department of International Trade’s publication ‘Overseas Business Risk: Ireland’ can be viewed here: 

Labour leader Keir Starmer challenged Boris Johnson about his ‘no non-tariff barriers’ claim in the House of Commons on 30th December: