Prime Minister Theresa May presented the Brexit White Paper to UK parliament yesterday (12 July), outlining Britain’s future relationship with the European Union.
Claiming to have ‘travelled up and down the country’ over the past two years “listening to views from all four nations of our United Kingdom and every side of the debate,” May said it was now time for the “UK to step out into the world, driving forward an independent trade policy by striking trade deals with new friends and old allies.”
Responding to the paper, both UKHospitality and the Food and Drink Federation (FD) said they are pleased and find the paper ‘extremely encouraging,’ but that they will stay in close contact with the government to ensure hospitality businesses are not ‘disadvantaged’ by Brexit.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of recently formed trade body, UKHospitality, said: “UKHospitality is pleased that the Government has recognised the value of the food and drink sector (in the Paper).
“We are also pleased that there appears to be no major deviation from previously stated positions, particularly the ability EU citizens to be able to work in the UK.
“It is vitally important that there is no friction in trade with the EU, and that goods – specifically food – is able to be traded to suit the ‘Just In Time’ method that many hospitality businesses will need. It’s reassuring to see the Government acknowledging the need for such smooth UK-EU trade.
“UKHospitality will continue to be in near-constant dialogue with the Government, to promote the interests of the hospitality sector and ensure that businesses are not disadvantaged by Brexit.
“We also await the forthcoming report by the Migration Advisory Committee and will be liaising with the MAC to ensure that the sector has access to the talent it needs.”
Ian Wright, FDF chief executive, added: “The UK Government is right to make no-friction trade with our most important trading partner its number one Brexit priority; it is extremely encouraging that the White Paper seeks to do so.
“Our food and drink manufacturers rely upon integrated supply chains, with ingredients and finished products crossing UK and EU borders frequently – nowhere more so than to and from the Republic of Ireland.
“It is positive that Government has heeded the consequences of friction for food and farming and for UK food security. Several senior Ministers have acknowledged the role FDF and our members’s advocacy played in shaping the proposals.
‘The paper begins to address some of the most concerning issues for manufacturers, such as rules of origin, however there is a lot further to go. As highlighted in FDF’s recent report, Government must grasp the impact rules of origin pose for globalised supply chains and include a joint exemption to all imports originating from Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
“We also need to understand much more about how the common rulebook will work in practice. Businesses and consumers urgently need clarity and confidence in the process for both following and deviating from EU rules.
“It is welcome that the UK will seek to participate and influence EU technical committees and have access to RASFF, but many questions still remain around our valued relationship with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
“The devil is in the detail. FDF will insist that the proposals support the competitiveness of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector and enable us to continue to deliver a fantastic range of food and drink to shoppers all year round.”