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UK launches its "bounce back" plan for agriculture

22 June 2020

The UK Government has unveiled new measures and proposed trade agreements that will revitalise the food and drinks sector as the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

A "bounce back" plan of trade measures for the agriculture, food and drink industry has been announced today to help support businesses that have been impacted by coronavirus.

The new strategic interventions jointly announced by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will offer immediate support to help businesses in the industry grow their trade activity overseas.

The agriculture, food and drink industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing industry and plays a vital role in the UK’s food supply chain, which contributed £121 billion to the UK economy in 2018 – supporting around 4 million jobs. In 2019, UK food, feed and drink exports were worth £23.7 billion – up 4.9 percent from 2018.

The measures introduced today will support producers, manufacturers and agri-tech companies across the food supply chain, from farm to fork, and has been developed with insight from the devolved administrations, trade associations, businesses and DIT’s regional and international networks.

The UK agriculture, food and drink industry has been significantly impacted by coronavirus. Although it has done well to adapt, exports have been hit and the Government is committed to supporting this most important of industries get back into international markets and start growing market share once again.

That’s why the Government is proud to announce our "bounce back" plan, introducing a new programme of physical and virtual events that have been tailored to help a variety 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.

Leveraging DIT’s existing E-exporting Programme, we are also launching a new SME E-commerce Accelerator Pilot to increase the level of international e-commerce backing for SMEs in the food and drink industry.

The plan will also see 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.

These measures are being announced as part of a programme of support for the agriculture, food and drink industry to ensure they benefit from new trade and investment opportunities - including future free trade agreements (FTAs).

Over the last two months the Department for International Trade has launched the first round of talks for the US, Japan and 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, which firmly backs British industry, including agri-food and drink. In 2019 the UK exported £2.4 billion of food and drink to the US, £312 million to Japan, £453 million to Australia and £58 million to New Zealand.

The full range of measures announced today include:

  1. Launch of a GREAT DIT Food & Drink Exporting Masterclass, an extensive and bespoke programme of webinars to be produced in conjunction with trade associations, UK regions, including Devolved Administrations, and DIT’s international network, all supported by DIT’s Export Specialists.
  2. Launch of Food & Drink SME E-commerce Accelerator Pilot to leverage DIT’s E-exporting Programme to increase the level of international e-commerce support for food and drink SMEs, including agri-tech. This will include the offer of one-to-one e-commerce export clinics with the programme’s e-commerce specialists and regional advisers, a new series of industry webinars and podcasts focussed on highlighting the opportunities available to export through e-marketplaces internationally, as well as virtual workshops on internationalising their websites for those companies selling direct to consumers in various markets around the world.
  3. Promote 50 Food and Drink Export Champions to stimulate aspiring exporters, while utilising International Trade Advisor specialist networks focused on agri-food.
  4. Announce the first Defra Agri-food Counsellor serving the UAE and wider Gulf Region, with the role focussing on supporting our food and drink sector and representing the interests of UK businesses already exporting to the area, as well as those looking to export for the first time. The new Defra-funded Regional Agri-Food Counsellor will be based in Dubai and will work alongside DIT’s existing sector leads in the UAE, providing specialist knowledge and engagement in Government to Government discussions on behalf of UK interests and sectors. She will also support food and drink promotion activity at the UK pavilion at World Expo in 2021, identifying opportunities for new markets and further developing existing export relationships.
  5. Launch of a programme of physical and virtual events, using innovative, interactive software to connect buyers, promote the UK and reach international markets. This will include: an overseas virtual buyer trial working directly with chosen US buyers through a virtual delivery programme; and developing a UK "Smart Distance Selling Process", which includes the dispatch of food and drink samples to buyers.
  6. Leveraging Defra’s Food is GREAT campaign, which will extend into the UAE and the EU later this year, to provide impactful and targeted activity in priority export markets, such as USA, China and Japan. This also will be complemented by new agri-food creative imagery within DIT’s GREAT Ready to Trade campaign when this resumes in the summer, under the Food is GREAT and Invest in GREAT pillars.
  7. Two Virtual Investor Roundtables chaired by Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment, with agri-food and drink, and agri-tech companies to inform the development of the UK’s investment strategy, the UK Agri-Tech International Strategy and the launch of Phase 2 of the High Potential Opportunity Programme.
  8. Uplift of UK Export Finance’s “Exporters’ Edge” campaign to further outreach and engagement to identify and respond to the needs of the industry and raise awareness of how UKEF and Trade Finance can help the businesses win and fulfil export contracts. UKEF is also accelerating the development of its products to allow a wider range of UK exporters to access its support. Its enhanced offer will provide easier access to working capital for UK exporters by offering financing that is not tied to specific export contracts but instead supports general business activities.


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