Food and drink industry needs free trade deal, says BEIS committee

A no-deal Brexit outcome would have a “seismic impact” on the food and drink industry, a Government committee has said.
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee said the success of the industry has been “dependent” on participating in the EU single markets and customs union.
“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,” said committee chair, Rachel Reeves.
The committee added that an EU free trade deal should be the number one priority.
According to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), the UK food and drink manufacturing sector employs more than 117,000 EU workers and contributed around £28.8 billion to the UK economy in 2017.
But the committee said without full access to EU markets once Britain leaves the trade union, UK exports of food and drink would suffer.
Ian Wright, chief executive of the FDF, said: “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.”

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