Food and drink exports are a success story. Exports have increased by 24% in real terms since 2010. The Government is determined to help maintain existing and develop new export opportunities. This includes through ongoing market access and via showcasing and promoting our excellent food and drink even more in the years to come.
Exports are an important driver of growth in the food and drink sector, allowing it to become more resilient, competitive and profitable. The UK’s growing reputation for high quality food and drink, with high standards of food safety, animal welfare and sustainability, is an excellent platform to increase overseas demand for our products further. Defra’s ‘Food is GREAT’ campaign is raising the profile and reputation of British food and drink overseas by building global demand and increasing positive perceptions of the UK’s food and drink products, as demonstrated by recent campaign activity in Japan to promote beef and lamb exports from the UK, following opening up of market access last year.
Defra, in collaboration with the Department for International Trade and representatives of the food and drink sector, is developing a replacement for the existing International Action Plan for Food and Drink, which will set out the future export ambitions for the sector. This includes reviewing the support we offer in market, building on the success of Defra’s first agriculture counsellor in Beijing.
As set out in the Government’s election manifesto, we have ambitious goals for British trade. As of 31 January 2020, when the UK left the EU, we had successfully concluded and signed trade continuity agreements with 48 countries. This accounts for £110 billion of UK trade in 2018. We will be continuing our programme to replicate existing EU trade agreements with trading partners to ensure continuity for UK businesses following the transition period. An up-to-date list of trade continuity agreements, signed and in discussion, is available on the GOV.UK website at: www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-trade-agreements-with-non-eu-countries.
We aim to have 80 per cent of UK trade with countries covered by free trade agreements within the next three years, starting with the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. This will further present new routes to market for British farmers. We are also working hard to secure a free trade agreement with the EU that will provide tariff-free access to the EU market for UK goods, and facilitative customs arrangements that will ensure smooth trade.