Al Rawdah London Gateway

The government has launched a ‘bounce back plan’ to help producers in the agriculture, food and drink sectors to recover from the economic damage of coronavirus.

The plan, which is focused on export opportunities, is designed to help SMEs to capitalise on trade agreements being negotiated with Japan, the US, Australia and New Zealand. It is being driven by Defra and the Department for International Trade (DIT) and has been created in conjunction with industry bodies and the devolved administrations.

According to the government, the new measures will support producers, manufacturers and agri-tech companies across the food supply chain from farm to fork, and includes a programme of physical and virtual events that have been tailored to help a range of businesses and exporters. These include an overseas virtual buyer trial, a ‘Smart Distance Selling Process’, and a package of ‘Ready to Trade’ Exporting Masterclass webinars.

A new SME E-commerce Accelerator Pilot is being launched to increase the level of international e-commerce backing for SMEs in the food and drink industry.

The plan also sees the introduction of Defra’s first agri-food counsellor serving the Gulf. In this new role, they will support the UK’s food and drink industry and represent the interests of UK businesses already exporting, or planning to export, to the region.

Over the last two months DIT has launched the first round of talks for the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand free-trade agreement negotiations. Additionally, the department has announced the first UK tariff in almost 50 years, the UK Global Tariff.

Minister for export Graham Stuart said: “More trade is absolutely critical to helping the UK’s agriculture, food and drink industry recover from the impact of coronavirus. The package of measures we have announced today will support ‘bounce back’ in exports, and help our world-class producers and manufacturers increase trade with the rest of the world. It will also get the industry ready to capitalise on the opportunities that are being opened up by the series of free-trade agreements that my department is negotiating around the world.”

Defra minister Victoria Prentis added: “The high quality of British food and drink is recognised around the world and the wider industry supports thousands of jobs across the UK. This package of measures signifies our strong commitment to support the sector in recovering from the impact of coronavirus. It includes the promotion and showcasing of British expertise and produce to new export markets, identifying opportunities and strengthening existing relationships.

“Our new agri-food counsellor serving the Gulf region will be an important new role representing the interests of UK businesses exporting to the area, working to open new export markets and supporting food and drink promotion activities within the region.”