Shoppers will pay the price if the UK Government does not secure a zero-tariff agreement with the EU, retailers have warned.
The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said if no trade deal is in place, retailers will struggle to insulate consumers from the impact of £3bn of new tariffs on food.
SRC director David Lonsdale said retailers want to see a lasting tariff-free and minimal-friction trade deal between the UK and the EU.
The Brexit transition period expires on December 31, at which point the UK will leave the bloc’s single market and customs union.
Mr Lonsdale said the UK Government must “strain every sinew” to agree a zero-tariff agreement.
He said: “Avoiding a no-deal cliff edge ensures consumers continue to have the widest possible choice on shop shelves and helps retailers keep down prices.
“Securing a trade deal means Scottish shoppers aren’t hit with unwanted new costs, at a time when the economy is under enormous pressure and family finances are stretched due to the recession.
“Without a trade deal there is little retailers can do to insulate consumers from the impact of £3bn of new tariffs on food in our supermarkets and grocery stores, as four-fifths of UK food imports come from the EU.
“Moreover, new checks and red tape that will apply from January 1 will create additional headaches in the supply of many goods that come from or through the EU.
“The UK Government must strain every sinew to agree a zero-tariff agreement, or else it will be Scottish shoppers who pay the price.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC that tariffs – which will be levied on imports from the EU if there is no free trade deal – play only a small part in the cost of food.
He said: “Of all the things that will be a challenge, I am not concerned about either supermarket cupboards running bare or the cost of food prices.
“Equally, there will be some bumps along the road if we don’t get a free trade deal, that’s the inevitable consequence of change.
“But we will be well braced and well prepared to deal with those, and we are going to make a success of leaving the transition period, come what may.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “We are continuing to work hard to reach a zero-tariff zero-quota agreement that delivers for all parts of the UK.
“If reasonable compromises cannot be found, we will leave the transition period on Australia terms and will prosper in doing so.
“We have been making significant preparations ahead of guaranteed changes taking place at the end of the transition period and have been supporting businesses and people across the UK to do the same.”
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