If a reseller in England imports a widget from China they will pay the UK's China->UK tariff for that good.

If they then sell that widget to a customer in Spain (in the EU), will the Spanish customer then pay the China->EU tariff for that good, meaning tariffs are applied at two stages in the supply of the product, even though there is a free trade agreement in place between the UK and EU?

Does the situation change if the widget was designed and commissioned from the UK by the seller, but manufactured in China.

  • Could the same question apply to items made in, say, Mexico?
    – Rick Smith
    Apr 13, 2022 at 16:21
  • 1
    The precise countries are not relevant. I am looking for the principle.
    – 52d6c6af
    Apr 13, 2022 at 16:27
  • This is a "what is the rule" type question, and there may not be the right lawyers here to answer. If this isn't a purely theoretical question, then you will need to consult a real expert in the law, as international trade rules are hard, and have all sorts of exceptions. Here is an example, although it doesn't cover your particular situation
    – James K
    Apr 13, 2022 at 16:35
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    @52d6c6af, there are norms, there are exceptions, there are bilateral treaties. It might be possible to give a 'best practice' answer based on WTO standards, but for any one case they might not apply because of some other rule.
    – o.m.
    Apr 13, 2022 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


The "principle" is that "yes", goods imported from China to Spain must pay EU tariffs on Chinese goods, whether or not they are diverted through the UK.

In practice there are 101 details, exceptions, special cases. For example there are special economic zones (freeports) at Felixstowe, Liverpool, Hull, Southampton and London Gateway. If the goods are imported to the UK, remain in the port zone, and then are re-exported, then UK tariffs will be applied differently (or not at all).

Moreover, at least part of the tariff can be reclaimed as part of VAT calculation when the product is sold. Exactly how much can you claim? Talk to an accountant

If the product is "substantially altered" in the UK, then it can become a UK product, and not subject to further tariff on export to Spain. What does "substantially altered" mean? Ask a lawyer.

So there are lots of ways that you can avoid paying twice. But in principle, if you import to the UK, and then re-export to Spain, you may have to pay both UK and EU tariff.

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