There’s a new momentum among leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations to cut tariffs on food, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday, adding that U.S. President Joe Biden was planning to cut $178 billion (£146 billion) worth of tariffs.
It comes after Johnson vowed to “get people through” the “post-COVID, Ukraine-exacerbated inflationary pressures.”
Speaking on Wednesday to reporters who travelled with him to the NATO summit in Madrid, Johnson suggested he wants to get rid of tariffs on food that the UK doesn’t produce.
Asked if the cost-of-living crisis is going to get worse before it gets better, Johnson said he “wouldn’t want to put it in exactly that way.”
“What I would say is that it is going to continue to be an issue for a while,” he said, “but I do think that we will find solutions.”
Having just attended the G-7 summit in Germany, Johnson said there had been “a new impetus” for the seven democracies to cut food tariffs.
“Look at the things we’re doing already to get food supplies going,” Johnson told reporters.
“Very interestingly at the G-7, there’s a new impetus to cut food tariffs,” he said.
“[There is] $750 billion [£617 billion] worth of food tariffs around the world. [U.S. President Joe] Biden is now going to cut $178 billion [£146 billion] worth.”
Johnson said the tariff cut on food, including on pet food, “would be a good thing.”
He also said the UK has “got food tariffs we don’t need.”
Asked for examples, Johnson replied, “Do we in the UK need to have tariffs on oranges?” before adding, “We don’t grow many bananas in the UK, I don’t think.”
The UK is currently charging 16 percent on banana imports and between 2 to 12 percent on imported oranges, according to the government.
In a separate interview later on Wednesday, Johnson denied that the West’s sanctions on Russia had pushed up global prices and laid the blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking about “swing countries,” which he said “are just a bit more ambivalent about what Putin has done,” Johnson said he needs to “explode some myths.”
“It’s not the sanctions that are causing the food prices to go up—as Putin tells Africa, Asia, and Latin America—it’s not the sanctions. There’s nothing to stop Putin [from] exporting food, exporting fertiliser, it’s what he is doing to stop grain come out of Ukraine. He’s blocking the food. We need to explode that myth,” the prime minister told GB News.
He also said the Russian invasion of Ukraine was “an act of absolutely unprovoked aggression,” arguing there had been “never any chance” that NATO would station missiles on Ukrainian soil.