Speaking at food safety and quality organisation NSF International’s London conference ‘Delivering customer confidence in a post-Brexit world’, Lord Price said he was now “optimistic” that the UK would end up with a “comprehensive free-trade agreement with the EU”.
He argued that it was in the interests of the UK and the EU to avoid high tariffs.
Comply with EU legislation
Given the current progress of negotiations, the UK would comply with EU legislation from day one of Brexit and would continue to do so throughout the agreed transition period. In fact, Price said: “I think we’ll have a more aligned trade agreement with the EU than any other country.”
Price moved to quell fears the UK would somehow be sidelined from global trading after the transition period. “You can’t fall out of the global trading system. The UK may well get challenges, but it will work through these.”
Despite his optimism, Price cautioned that austerity would not make it easy for the trade and increased supply chain costs would have to be absorbed by retailers “for quite some time to come”, he said.
Austerity would not make it easy
Price added: “Local government is being asked to fund innovative ways of raising money”, adding that the food industry as much as any other would have to ride that wave for the time being.
Meanwhile, 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.