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MAKING IT WORK
We are facing a truly landmark moment in our national history as we prepare to leave the EU. I think it is a great honour to be leading the department at this time.
I want to be clear that the Government is committed to doing whatever it takes to support our vibrant, thriving food and drink industry.
It is important we get a good Brexit deal for Britain, one which works for farmers, food producers and consumers. We are determined to make sure we continue to benefit from tariff-free trade for all our goods that is as frictionless as possible. At the same time we will need to make decisions that maintain our reputation for high quality UK food and drink produce, while underpinning this with an insistence that the UK will maintain its own high animal welfare and environmental standards in future free trade agreements.
Leaving the EU also provides us with a golden opportunity to design an approach that works and delivers for our food sector. Our ambitious food producers will launch new products by investing in innovative technologies and creative ideas. We will open new international markets to drive the global demand for our produce.
It stands to reason that this will not be without its challenges, but over the next few years we will be working hard to make sure we make the right decisions that will stand the test of time.
I have been consistent in my belief that, as we leave the EU, the UK will strive for world-leading excellence in everything we do. We are a nation that trades on a reputation for trusted, high quality products produced to high standards – leaving the EU gives us a chance to enhance this reputation.
WHAT’S TO COME
As I’ve mentioned, we will soon be creating a Food and Drink Sector Council. It will be an ambitious partnership between the government and industry leaders from across the food chain, including agriculture, food and drink manufacturing, retail, hospitality and logistics. It will lead the work to secure the UK’s position as a global leader in sustainable, affordable, safe and high-quality food and drink.
The Food and Drink Sector Council will build on emerging proposals for a sector deal in food and drink manufacturing. This will include support to transform exports, and to capitalise on its unique innovation opportunities including sustainable agriculture and food manufacturing.
I mentioned earlier the Food is GREAT campaign, which is part of the wider GREAT campaign set up by government to nurture talent and create exceptional products and services that can be sold across the globe. Defra continues to work closely with the Department of International Trade (DIT) to drive exports and increase global demand for the UK’s top quality food and drink.
I think all of these things will help us meet our goal to further boost exports and in our commitment to getting the best possible deal when we leave the EU, one that allows us to continue to have tariff-free frictionless access for goods and services into the European market.
Read the full interview in the latest issue of Speciality Food, free to download here.