On 27 January 2020 , three prestigious UK food and drink sector Defra-sponsored representative groupings - the Food and Drink Roundtable (chaired by Ian Wright), the Brexit Livestock Group (chaired by Chris Dodds) and the Brexit Arable Group (chaired by Alex Waugh) - launched a new policy paper with the striking title:
"GLOBAL BRITAIN - Trade Policy for a world class food, drink and agriculture industry: An outline proposal from the UK's food and drink sector."
The 5-page document clearly aims to influence the UK Government's stance on food and drink sector issues in the forthcoming trade negotiations with the EU for a Free Trade Agreement post-Brexit.
The policy paper focusses on a number of key issues which include seeking "accommodating Rules of Origin" in relation to manufactured foods, bearing in mind the diverse country origins of many food products; dealing sensibly with tariff and non-tariff barriers; and gaining time to adapt to changes in "competitive positioning" arising from the creation of new trade agreements.
The policy paper recommends working towards a "national trade strategy" of which the food and drink sector would necessarily form an integral part and suggests that New Zealand's "Trade for All Agenda" could be taken as an example of what such a national trade strategy should comprise.
The policy paper states that UK food and drink sector "is ready to help establish effective two-way mechanisms of consultation between Government and industry....These processes must be transparent, agile and able to move quickly (i.e. in real time)".
To an impartial observer, it seems that the UK Government may need all the help that it can get!