Brexit: End tariffs on UK-made ice cream vans - Liz Truss

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Image source, PA Media

The government has promised to push for an end to tariffs on UK-made ice cream vans during trade negotiations with the US, Australia and Japan.

Other countries currently impose charges of up to 5% when importing the vehicles, which cost around £80,000.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss called them a "great British export" and promised to bring them up in talks.

The vans, many of whose owners also sell coffee, tea and frozen yogurt, are a familiar sight on UK roads.

During summer, they alert potential customers when they approach a park or suburban street by playing bursts of classic tunes, such as Greensleeves or Giovanni Capurro's O Sole Mio - known to many in the UK as the theme once used in Wall's Cornetto adverts.

Restrictions on trading spots and the greater use of home freezers mean the number of ice cream van operators in the UK has reportedly declined from a high of around 20,000 in the 1950s to about 5,000 today.

Yet the country remains one of the world's leading exporters of the vehicles.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Politicians love an ice-cream photo opportunity

In Parliament, Conservative MP Kieran Mullan, who has Whitby Morrison, the UK's largest ice cream van manufacturer, in his Crewe and Nantwich constituency, said to Ms Truss: "They're exporting their vans to more than 60 countries worldwide but they still face considerable trade barriers.

"Can the secretary of state assure me that in trade talks with Japan, the US, Australia and other countries that we have ice cream vans on the list so we can back this great British export?"

She replied: "I congratulate my honourable friend for his championing of this fantastic ice cream van business.

"They are indeed a great export and currently face tariffs of up to 5% with some of our negotiating partners and it's something we will be looking at - removing those tariffs - as well as other tariffs as part of the trade deals we're looking to strike."

Australia imposes a 5% tariff, while the US's is 2.5%.

Ed Whitby, operations director at Whitby Morrison, which employs 40 people and makes between 80 and 90 vans a year, told the BBC: "Around the world we're known in this country for the quality of of our manufacturing and it's nice that the government recognises this."

Last month, Ms Truss warned that a dispute over another iconic UK product - stilton cheese - could be a sticking point in a potential post-Brexit trade deal with Japan.

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