Brexit Will Make Hearts Pop – More Drivel About Food Imports

If only we had some method of working out what the effect of something might be. You know, something like that mythical science stuff that other societies sometimes use. Then we’d have people able to analyse what would happen if we tweak some aspect of our world. Why, we could even call them scientists.

Instead of whatever drivel it is which produces this:

Any type of Brexit deal threatens to result in thousands of extra deaths from heart attacks and strokes because the prices of fruit and vegetables are set to rise, according to researchers. Fruit and veg is vital for good health but consuming too little is a “major risk factor” for cardiovascular disease. Researchers are warning higher prices on imports post-Brexit could leave customers unable to afford fresh produce and risk their health, as Parliament wrangles over the withdrawal agreement. The study, from Imperial College London and the University of Liverpool, said a no-deal Brexit would have the biggest impact on the public, resulting in more than 12,000 extra deaths between 2021 and 2030.

Let us take just one thing mentioned in the paper:

Under all Brexit scenarios, prices of F&V are likely to increase on average between 1.8% and 7.8%. The banana, citrus fruit, and tomato markets are likely to be the most disrupted, with price increases up to approximately 16.7%, 14.3%, and 13.4% respectively. A transitional Brexit is likely to result in approximately 670 (95% Uncertainty Interval: 430–980) extra CHD deaths and 6370 (4,360–8,990) life-years lost. A liberalised regime which eliminates all import tariffs is likely to contribute approximately 940 (600–1,370) additional CHD deaths and 8870 (6,060–12,540) life-years lost, due to non-tariff trade barriers between the UK and the EU. A no-deal Brexit scenario might be the most harmful, generating approximately 2900 (1,820–4,310) extra CHD deaths and 27 440 (18,200–39,630) life-years lost between 2020–2030.

Bananas, right? The EU’s banana regime being:

In addition, the EU has concluded specific agreements with various Latin American countries, the USA and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries: The 2009 Geneva agreement on trade in bananas is an agreement between the EU and certain Latin American countries, granting then “most favoured nation” status. It also covers the United States. Under the terms of this agreement, the EU is committed to gradually cutting import tariffs on bananas from these countries from €176/t to €114 /t, by 2019 at the latest.

 

Free trade agreements including a stabilisation mechanism
Since 2009, most of the major banana producers in Latin American have also signed free trade agreements with the EU: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. These agreements provide for a gradual reduction of the import duty for bananas from these countries down to € 75/t as of 1 January 2020. They also include a so-called ‘stabilisation mechanism’ that allows the EU, if it chooses to do so, to temporarily suspend the preferential tariffs when imports exceed pre-defined trigger levels and cause a serious disturbance on the EU banana market. These stabilisation mechanisms apply until the end of 2019, when the import duty will be set permanently at €75/t.

Is that a high tariff? Well, could be, could be:

Roughly speaking, doing the currency rates in heads and all that, those import tariffs are 20% or, if you’re a specially favoured source, 10%. So, the UK leaves the EU. We no longer have to charge EU tariffs. We have absolutely no domestic production at all – Kew might gain a bunch a year in one of the greenhouses – and thus won’t be imposing tariffs to protect any producers.

10 to 20% off is going to lead to an increase in price is it? Note that they say the effect will be greater if we don’t charge import duties.

This is drivel, isn’t it? Ho hum, guess we just have to hope they’ll invent science soon.

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Dodgy GeezerthammondRhoda KlappJonathan HarstonQuentin Vole Recent comment authors
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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

450,000 UK folks died in the years 1939-45, when import restrictions imposed by Europe denied us bananas and oranges.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Large parts of Greece and the islands were turned over to banana plantations as the EU tried to establish an indigenous product (and slapped huge tariffs on Caribbean ones). The result was largely inedible (not enough heat to fully ripen) and ended up in animal feed IIRC.

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

“Any type of Brexit deal threatens to result in thousands of extra deaths”

Ok, No Deal it is then.

“a no-deal Brexit would have the biggest impact on the public”

Hold on, you’ve just said a Deal-Brexit would be apocalypse only two sentences ago!

thammond
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thammond

The thing is, fresh fruit is amazingly cheap. A banana at Tesco is 14p, so a 20% increase in price is going to make it all of 17p. So this “study” is assuming that even the smallest increase in price results in a decrease in consumption. That seems utterly unlikely, given the values we are talking about. It also assumes that whatever is in the fruit and veg that will become unaffordable cannot be got anywhere else – which is utter nonsense.

Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

As part of my public service duty to Project Fear, I’m obliged to say that they missed out scurvy, pellagra and rickets.

thammond
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thammond

To be fair to this idiocy, they do say that there will be non-tariff barriers on EU imports if we have no tariffs. Why is not clear and why that will make any difference o prices is also unclear, since we can eliminate tariffs on competing products so EU exporters will have to match those prices.

It is all very depressing though, the corruption of our universities, Parliament, the BoE and other institutions, just to try and prevent us leaving a rather overblown and silly organisation.

Dodgy Geezer
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Dodgy Geezer

Let us assume, for the purpose of simple maths, that half the country voted for Brexit and half didn’t. Let us further assume that of each half, half feel strongly about their choice and half don’t. The adult population of the UK is 52m. That makes 13m people who will be royally pissed off, whatever Brexit decision is made. These two papers are of particular interest in this respect: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11791022 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24591550 They show that anger increases risk of a heart attack by one standard deviation. If we guess that as 20% for the UK population, that equates to around 40,000… Read more »