It said the country offered “significant growth” potential for exports of food and drink and apart from the EU should be the top international trade priority.
The news follows a report from the Financial Times that revealed that a trade deal with Japan had stalled over blue cheese. It emerged that Liz Truss, the UK trade secretary, wanted British cheese to be added into any trade deal.
Cars for cheese
Rumours have circulated that the UK wants to replicate the EU's "cars for cheese" trade deal with Japan.
The food and drink sector has been pushing for agricultural and food products to be included in any trade deals in the wake of Brexit.
This prompted the Government to set up a Trade & Agriculture Commission, which would make recommendations for UK agricultural trade policy.
Former Tesco technical boss and ex-chief executive of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Tim Smith was named as the chair of the new Trade and Agriculture Commission.
Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the FDF backed the Government move
“Japan is the world’s largest net importer of food and drink and offers significant growth potential for exports of UK food and drink,” he said.
“Aside from securing a preferential trade agreement with the EU, this is our industry’s top international trade priority and can make a significant contribution towards the UK’s economic recovery.”
“We welcome the Government’s prioritisation of food and drink in these talks and hope an agreement will quickly be concluded to allow legal ratification before the end of the year. It is essential that a deal delivers terms that are at least as generous for food and drink and avoids any break in continuity after our access to the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) ends on 1 January 2021.”
However, Atul Bhakta, chief executive officer at One World Express, the logistics supplier issued a note of warning.
“The issues that have arisen in the UK-Japan trade talks are telling,” Bhakta said.“Most notably, the UK is benchmarking its future economic arrangement against what it currently enjoys as part of the EU – the Government is clearly reluctant to settle for anything that could be deemed an inferior deal.”
“However, holding out for Japan to agree to a more lenient system of tariffs than the EU’s could be dangerous; and the same applies to future deals if this remains the UK Government’s negotiating stance.”