‘Bounce back’ plan for agriculture, food and drink industry launched

Covid-19 News | Export | Food & Drink | National

A ‘bounce back’ plan of trade measures for the agriculture, food and drink industry has been announced today to help support businesses that have been impacted by coronavirus.

The new strategic interventions jointly announced by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will offer immediate support to help businesses in the industry grow their trade activity overseas.

The agriculture, food and drink industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing industry and plays a vital role in the UK’s food supply chain, which contributed £121bn to the UK economy in 2018 – supporting around 4 million jobs. In 2019, UK food, feed and drink exports were worth £23.7bn – up 4.9% from 2018.

The measures introduced today will support producers, manufacturers and agri-tech companies across the food supply chain, from farm to fork, and has been developed with insight from the devolved administrations, trade associations, businesses and DIT’s regional and international networks.

The UK agriculture, food and drink industry has been significantly impacted by Coronavirus. Although it has done well to adapt, exports have been hit and the Government is committed to supporting this most important of industries get back into international markets and start growing market share once again.

That’s why we’re proud to announce our ‘bounce back’ plan, introducing a new programme of physical and virtual events that have been tailored to help a variety of businesses and exporters. These include an overseas virtual buyer trial, a ‘Smart Distance Selling Process’, and a package of ‘Ready to Trade’ Exporting Masterclass webinars.

Leveraging DIT’s existing E-exporting Programme, we are also launching a new SME E-commerce Accelerator Pilot to increase the level of international e-commerce backing for SMEs in the food and drink industry.

The plan will also see the introduction of Defra’s first Agri-food Counsellor serving the Gulf. In this new role, they will support the UK’s food and drink industry and represent the interests of UK businesses already exporting, or planning to export, to the region.

These measures are being announced as part of a programme of support for the agriculture, food and drink industry to ensure they benefit from new trade and investment opportunities – including future free trade agreements (FTAs).

Over the last two months, the Department for International Trade has launched the first round of talks for the US, Japan and Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Additionally, the department has announced the first UK Tariff in almost 50 years, the UK Global Tariff, which firmly backs British industry, including agri-food and drink. In 2019 the UK exported £2.4bn of food and drink to the US, £312m to Japan, £453m to Australia and £58m to New Zealand.

Minister for Export, Graham Stuart MP, DIT said: “More trade is absolutely critical to helping the UK’s agriculture, food and drink industry recover from the impact of coronavirus. The package of measures we have announced today will support ‘bounce back’ in exports, and help our world-class producers and manufacturers increase trade with the rest of the world. It will also get the industry ready to capitalise on the opportunities that are being opened up by the series of free trade agreements that my department is negotiating around the world.”

Industry reaction

Ian Wright CBE, Chief Executive of the Food and Drink Federation said: “Support on this scale from UK Government is extremely welcome at this uncertain time. The package of measures is testament to the close and long-running work between FDF, DIT and Defra to boost our exports performance. Our success in restarting and expanding exports will be absolutely vital in aiding the UK’s post-Covid economic recovery.

“UK food and drink is an international success story, exporting more than £23bn of quality products each year. The ‘bounce back’ plan will ensure that specialist support is available to those UK businesses which trade around the world and provides fantastic potential for those companies looking to export. With a footprint in every constituency, food and drink is uniquely placed to drive an exports-led recovery. In the longer term, it is important that government and industry continue to work together to take advantage of export opportunities and address fragmentation in available support across the UK.”

AHDB’s International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said: “We welcome today’s announcement by government to launch a new recovery package, which will provide immediate support to those businesses looking to grow their trade activity overseas. Coronavirus has had a big impact on the UK’s export activity and while we continue to ship our produce around the world, the challenges of the pandemic have been strongly felt in all sectors.

“Therefore, we are very encouraged to see this ‘bounce back’ plan, which will provide significant support to many of the UK businesses we assist in growing their overseas trade. We hope that many will benefit from new trade and investment opportunities, so that AHDB, in partnership with government, can continue to put UK produce on the tables of more households around the world.”

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