British Frozen Food Federation Chief Executive John Hyman has joined Food and Drink Federation Director General Ian Wright and 25 other trade association and council signatories to a joint letter spelling out 10 key Brexit priorities for negotiations with the European Union. Each is designed to protect the United Kingdom’s food security and food and farming industries.
“Our trading ties with the EU are deeply interwoven, as is the regulatory framework. Abrupt change would have enormous consequences for our industry, its employees and for the choice and availability of food in this country,” states the letter.
Food and drink is Britain’s largest manufacturing sector and the largest employer in the service sector, employing four million people throughout the “farm to fork” food chain in every constituency across the United Kingdom.
“Feeding people well is a matter of national security and vital to the success of the UK economy,” the letter continues. “Since the vote to leave the European Union, we have worked with the UK Government to explain the policy outcomes we need in order to continue providing safe, affordable and nutritious food and drink to UK consumers…The opportunities for our industry are huge. But uncertainty around the shape of our exit from the EU, the future of our domestic farming and fisheries production, and a looming skills and workforce shortage threaten the viability of our businesses.”
As abrupt change could have enormous consequences, representatives of Britain’s diverse food and drink industry have asked the government to achieve the best possible Brexit outcome by adhering to the following 10 priorities during negotiations:
- Avoid any “cliff edge” by securing an adequate interim and transitional period to help prepare for a new relationship with the EU.
- Quickly negotiate the right to remain for Britain’s valued EU workforce and their families.
- Recognize the unique nature of the UK’s relationship with Ireland by agreeing a series of special solutions on workforce, regulation and borders.
- Deliver continued zero-tariff and frictionless trade across borders in both directions to give consumers the choice they expect, at a price they can afford.
- Maintain consumer confidence in UK food safety and authenticity through a stable, equivalent regulatory framework to ensure seamless trade.
- Work with the food and drink sector to develop homegrown talent and consult the industry fully over its needs ahead of any new migration scheme.
- Support an industrial strategy sector deal to harness industrial growth potential and improve productivity.
- Turbocharge exports support to help smaller food and drink firms take advantage of new opportunities so that we can grow our share of global trade.
- Provide a competitive supply base and ensure reforms to UK farm support – and to fisheries management – take full account of the needs of the rural and coastal communities, planning and investment horizons.
- Maintain the UK as the destination of choice for multinational food and drink firms and encourage inward investment to benefit local communities.
“We believe these are all deliverable by a Government and Parliament committed to securing the best possible outcome from Brexit. We urge you to work with us as the negotiations proceed,” concludes the letter.