12 December 2020 update

We’re pleased to seethis announcement from the Department of International Trade (para 4) that after 1 January 2021 it does NOT intend to continue with the additional tariffs, imposed recently by the EU, on US goods as a result of the Boeing dispute. This will be welcome news to importers who buy fish from America. It does however reserve the right to impose tariffs at any point ‘if satisfactory progress towards an agreeable settlement is not made’.


OATA has made representations to HMRC about the 25% tariff which has been introduced on imports of ornamental fish from the US.

This surprise hike, which UK businesses were given no warning about, came into force on 10 November as a retaliatory measure to US tariff hikes (see letter from HMRC). HMRC is saying that for at least the remainder of the Transition Period the UK will apply the same retaliatory rights imposed by the EU and may extend it beyond that.

In a communication to OATA HMRC explained the EU had published its regulation late in the day to take effect at midnight of that same day and HMRC was not made aware of the regulation until the following morning when the measures had already taken effect. During the tranisition period that means the tariffs must be applied and HMRC had no choice but to bring them in immediately and is legally obliged to collect the tariff during 2020.

The Department for International Trade is responsible for UK Trade Policy in 2021 and issued the following statement regarding the US retaliatory duty.

“For the remainder of the Transition Period, the UK will apply retaliatory rights imposed by the EU by virtue of the EU Enforcement Regulation. The UK will not need to impose Boeing countermeasures next year if satisfactory progress is made towards a balanced settlement which sees the removal of all tariffs. However, the UK reserves the option to exercise its right to impose countermeasures independently post-Transition Period if negotiations do not progress.”

The increase in tariffs for ornamental fish is one of many hitting goods coming to the EU from the US. For more detail on the background to this issue read this story in Practical Fishkeeping Magazine.