BEIS: Time running out for post-Brexit trade deal

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Time is running out to negotiate a trade system post Brexit, claimed the BEIS Committee
Time is running out to negotiate a trade system post Brexit, claimed the BEIS Committee
The Government is running out of time to negotiate an orderly trade system after the UK’s Brexit transition period, according to a parliament committee, which places significant risk on businesses and workers in the food and drink sector.

A report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee – The impact of Brexit on the processed food & drink sector ​– warned a no-deal would be disastrous for UK exports and should be avoided at all costs.

It also found that a future move by the UK to lower or remove tariffs could have “extremely damaging consequences”​ for British farming, with only the prospect of very limited benefit to consumers in terms of lower prices.

Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the BEIS Committee, claimed the success of the food and drink industry had been highly dependent on participating in the Single Market and Customs Union.

‘Ensure continued success’

“To ensure the continued success of our food and drinks industry, the Government must provide clarity and certainty on our future relationship with the EU and seek continued regulatory, standards, and trading alignment with the EU in the processed food and drink sector,” ​she added.

The report called for a credible solution to avoiding a hard border between Northern and the Republic of Ireland, as well as replicating all existing EU trade deals with third countries and negotiating preferential agreements with other countries that included mutual recognition.

The BEIS Committee also concluded that the UK should stay as close as possible to EU regulations for food and drink after Brexit. Key EU regulations should be preserved to “maintain the competitiveness of flagship UK products and allow UK customers confidence in what they buy”.

‘Increased friction’

Commenting on the report from the BEIS Committee, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) chief executive Ian Wright said: “Any increased friction as a result of physical checks or paperwork at borders will prove costly for the entire supply chain and cause short-term disruption for businesses, consumers and shoppers.

 “We echo the Committee’s call to government for increased customs capacity and support for businesses of all sizes to navigate the changes ahead. The proposed transition length is briefer than we believe would be optimum and government must review how ‘readiness’ is progressing.”

He also welcomed the Committee’s focus on the challenges facing the industry in regards to the threat of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

Wright added: “FDF supports government in its efforts to find the right technology to avoid a hard border and any customs or phytosanitary checks. However, time is running out when it comes to finding a credible, technological solution and the option of a regulatory backstop must be left on the table.”

The FDF recently welcomed the Government’s soft border plan​ for Northern Ireland.

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1 comment

It makes sense.....

Posted by Bob Salmon,

It would be crazy to set up a complete new set of food hygiene and labelling rules. some of us have spent years getting them generally acceptable for all UK food businesses, especially the 90% which are very small. Many consumers depend on these SMEs because they cannot get to the big stores. so it should be Government and FSA policy to encourage them rather than load them with details which are necessary in mass production but superfluous for SMEs.
The rest of Europe needs us probably more than we need them which is why they are being so awkward. They will be consistently negative for their own ends. UK officials must soon realise that they have a duty to provide services to consumers, not make it hard for producers and retailers.

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