A spate of trade measures for the agriculture, food and drink industry has been announced today as part of a “bounce back plan” to help support businesses that have been impacted by coronavirus.
A government spokesman said the measures are designed to “turbocharge” UK food and drink as the world recovers from coronavirus.
The new interventions, jointly announced by the Department of International Trade (DIT) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), will offer immediate support to help businesses grow their trade overseas.
It builds on trade agreements being negotiated by DIT with Japan, US, Australia and New Zealand.
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 £121 billion to the UK economy in 2018 – supporting around four million jobs. In 2019, UK food, feed and drink exports were worth £23.7 billion – up 4.9% from 2018.
The programme of physical and virtual events includes 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, the Government is 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.
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.
It comes as the department has announced the first UK Tariff in almost 50 years. In 2019, the UK exported £2.4 billion of food and drink to the US, £312 million to Japan, £453 million to Australia and £58 million 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.”
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 £23 billion 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 the government to launch a new recovery package, which will provide immediate support to those businesses looking to grow their trade activity overseas.
“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.”
The full range of measures announced today include:
Launch of a GREAT DIT Food & Drink Exporting Masterclass.
Launch of Food & Drink SME E-commerce Accelerator Pilot to leverage DIT’s E-exporting Programme to increase the level of international e-commerce support for food and drink SMEs, including agri-tech.
Promote 50 Food and Drink Export Champions to stimulate aspiring exporters, while utilising International Trade Advisor specialist networks focused on agri-food.
Announce the first Defra agri-food counsellor serving the UAE and wider Gulf Region.
Launch of a programme of physical and virtual events, including an overseas virtual buyer trial working; and developing a UK ‘Smart Distance Selling Process’, which includes the dispatch of food and drink samples to buyers.
Leveraging Defra’s ‘Food is GREAT’ campaign to provide impactful and targeted activity in priority export markets, such as USA, China and Japan.
Two virtual investor roundtables chaired by Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment, with agri-food and drink, and agri-tech companies to inform the development of the UK’s investment strategy, the UK Agri-Tech International Strategy and the launch of Phase 2 of the High Potential Opportunity Programme.
Building on UK Export Finance’s ‘Exporters’ Edge’ campaign.