Trade priorities for food supply chain
With Brexit now seeming more like a reality, everyone is taking their turn to spell out their demands to the Government negotiators with the latest being a joint approach by organisations representing farmers, food and drink manufacturers and retailers.
They want the UK to adopt an approach to Brexit negotiations that will ensure stability and continuity for agri-food and drink businesses.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) set out seven priorities for the food supply chain in the UK’s post-Brexit trade regime.
They are calling for a smooth and orderly Brexit, with transitional arrangements aimed at maintaining frictionless trade in goods between the UK and the EU, avoiding costly and disruptive customs checks, processes and procedures.
A bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) should be negotiated with the EU, their joint statement says, delivering two-way tariff-free trade.
The UK should also establish itself as an independent member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), thereby providing continuity and predictability by adopting the EU’s current schedule of Most-Favoured-Nation (MFN) bound tariff rates.
Benefits for UK traders of existing EU preferential trade arrangements should be secured, including the UK’s “fair share” of tariff rate quotas for agricultural imports and any preferential access for UK food and drink exports — at least until they can be replaced with better arrangements.
Once the terms of the UK’s future trading relations with the EU are clear, the statement goes on, the Government should engage in formal trade negotiations with non-EU countries.
Attention should also be given to establishing co-operation with these countries on regulatory equivalence and ensuring that all new trade agreements consider differences in regulations and standards when market access is negotiated.
In addition, the BRC, NFU and FDF want interested parties to be consulted and detailed economic impact assessments undertaken when future trade negotiations start and before any deals are agreed.