Government backtracks over false claim soy sauce will be cheaper after Brexit

Jon Stone
·2 min read
Soy sauce will not get cheaper, despite the government’s claims (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Soy sauce will not get cheaper, despite the government’s claims (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The government has been forced to backtrack after falsely claiming that its trade policies will cut the price of soy sauce after Brexit.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) twitter account posted on Tuesday night that the ingredient "will be made cheaper thanks to our trade deal with Japan".

But trade experts pointed out that the agreement in fact would only prevent the salty condiment from getting more expensive under a no-deal Brexit and it currently is.

This is because the UK currently benefits from the EU's trade deal with Japan, which it was in danger of losing because of Brexit.

Opposition politicians said the government's trade policies were increasingly characterised by "exaggerations and mis-truths".

Sam Lowe, a trade expert at the Centre for European Reform, described the department's claim as "naughty".

He noted that the sauce was "already zero-rated under EU-Japan deal" and that the UK-Japan deal would simply "mean it wont get more expensive at the end of the year".

Others pointed out that the leading brand of soy sauce sold in the UK, Kikkoman, production its sauce for the British market in the Netherlands. This mean the product could get more expensive in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

On 31 December EU trade deals will stop applying to the UK because of the end of the Brexit transition period.

The UK has struggled to replace all the EU's deals, with some major countries like Mexico and Canada still unaccounted for.

International trade secretary Liz TrussPA
International trade secretary Liz TrussPA

Acknowledging the error on Wednesday morning, DIT's twitter account said: "To clarify: thanks to the UK-Japan trade deal, soya sauce will be cheaper than it otherwise would be under WTO terms, on which we would be trading with Japan from 1 Jan if we had not secured the UK-Japan trade deal."

The incorrect tweet remains undeleted, however. It has been retweeted 90 times, and quote-tweeted over 2,200 times – mostly critically.

Labour's shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry said the soy sauce episode was and illustration of a "much bigger problem" with the government's entire approach to trade.

"For four years, the DIT has been over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to our trade deals, then constantly trying to fill the gap with exaggerations and mis-truths," she said.

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