The International Trade Council (ITC) welcomes UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's recently announced measures aimed at reinforcing the UK food supply chain and protecting farmers in future trade negotiations. This initiative is a proactive response to address inflation and highlights the pivotal role of the agricultural sector in the UK's economy and trade.
The proposed package is designed to enhance the sector's long-term resilience and sustainability. Key features of the support include:
- A £2 million fund to assist exporters and importers in attending global trade shows
- The appointment of five new "agri-food and drink attaches" to eliminate international trade barriers
- Allocating £1 million each to boost dairy and seafood exports
The ITC strongly supports these measures as they align with our mission to promote international trade and provide the necessary resources for traders to thrive in the global marketplace.
In an open letter to UK farmers, Prime Minister Sunak detailed six principles to position British farming at the core of the country's trade endeavours. These principles encompass protecting sensitive sectors in future trade deals, upholding UK’s food and production standards, and removing market access barriers.
The ITC appreciates the recognition of agriculture as a key player in the trade ecosystem and not merely an "afterthought" in negotiations. This stance aligns with our advocacy for the fair treatment of all sectors in trade agreements.
Simultaneously, the Prime Minister is hosting the UK Farm to Fork summit, where representatives from the food industry will address the high cost of grocery products amidst rising inflationary pressures.
The ITC acknowledges the challenges posed by the ongoing debate within the UK government concerning additional visas for fruit pickers, a critical issue for the farming sector. The Prime Minister is expected to face pressure over the Seasonal Workers’ Scheme's adequacy, which currently allows temporary workers into the UK to pick fruit and other produce.
On the regulatory front, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK's leading markets watchdog, is launching an investigation into the food industry due to concerns about high prices. This inquiry aims to discern whether "weak competition" is contributing to food inflation.
In closing, the ITC continues to encourage and support adherence to trade rules and regulations worldwide, ensuring that all parties involved in the international trade are well-informed and compliant, thus promoting a healthy and fair global trade environment.
For more information about the ITC and its work, please visit our website or contact our office.