You don't need to know much about the WTO and international trade law, but it's important to understand that under WTO rules we must apply our MFN tariffs to any country with which we have no trade deal, i.e. not discriminate. See them here: gov.uk/guidance/uk-ta…
We set our own MFN tariffs, which can be reduced to zero if we want but can't be higher than our maximum bound tariff rates set at the WTO. Trump unilaterally imposed tariffs on China trying to use national security and "public morals" exceptions but the WTO struck some down.
There are also anti-dumping duties, countervailing measures and safeguards. These are additional tariffs we can impose after proving there has been unfair trade under WTO rules, but that's a long story. They are mainly applied to specific countries and specific products.
The WTO also allows us to exempt some developing countries from our tariffs under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP).
gov.uk/guidance/tradi…
This government's policy is usually to keep tariffs as low as possible, unless UK manufacturers can benefit from higher tariffs on foreign imports. It is always very difficult to decide between the interests of manufacturers and the interests of importers and consumers.

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More from @Life_Disrupted

9 Sep
When I was in the Department for International Trade I asked whether some of our plans would be legal. The answer was that it would take a long time for them to be legally challenged. Afterwards I was sacked.
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The Department for International Trade asked me for an extension on the deadline for providing me with a list of documents to be used in my employment tribunal against them. How are they going to do a deal with the EU on time if they can't provide a list of documents?
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