Rules of origin: The biggest Brexit problem you didn't know about

Press quote (Prospect)
16 March 2018

“Rules of origin are going to be one post-Brexit additional cost to business that no amount of innovative thinking or new and unusual technology can stave off,” Sam Lowe, a trade expert at the Centre for European Reform told me. The CBI agrees. “For the 135,000 businesses who currently only export to the EU,” it writes in a new report, rules of origin will “be a huge and unprecedented administrative challenge.”The reality is that Britain could strike a free trade deal with Europe and yet still face hefty tariffs on some of its most important exports. Lowe confirmed: “Even if the UK enters into a free trade agreement removing tariffs on goods—which seems likely—some UK exporters may struggle to qualify for it due to the product they are selling having insufficient local, UK, content.” This isn’t because the system will have broken down in some way, but because of how global trade works. But it’s hardly the vision sold by the “Leave” campaign.