Food retailers seek UK-EU free trade agreement

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Tax-news | 28 March 2017

Food retailers seek UK-EU free trade agreement

by Jason Gorringe

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and other food industry representative bodies have called on the UK Government to secure two-way tariff-free trade with the EU in Brexit discussions.

The BRC, the National Farmers Union of England and Wales (NFU), and the UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) have outlined their joint priorities for UK trade policy in a new statement.

They are calling on the Government to "adopt an approach that will ensure stability and continuity for agri-food and drink businesses" through a bilateral free trade agreement.

They are also calling on the UK to: establish itself as an independent member of World Trade Organization, to provide continuity and predictability to firms by adopting the EU’s current schedule of Most Favoured Nation bound tariff rates; secure the benefits for UK traders of existing EU preferential trade arrangements, including the UK’s fair share of tariff rate quotas for agricultural imports; and engage in formal trade negotiations with non-EU countries when the terms of the UK’s future trading relations with the EU and other existing preferential trading partners are clear.

"We cannot operate in isolation," the joint statement said. "Our farmers need imported feed and inputs and they need access to other markets for their products, especially where demand for these in the UK is insufficient."

The UK Government has confirmed that it will invoke Article 50 to launch the Brexit process on March 29, 2017.

Earlier this year Theresa May ruled out the possibility of the UK remaining part of the EU Single Market, in a speech that gave more detail on her Brexit strategy. She said that this "cannot mean membership of the Single Market."

May said that she would instead seek to gain "the greatest possible access" to the European market "through a new, comprehensive, bold, and ambitious free trade agreement." May said while she wants the UK to remain part of the customs union, as an "associate member," the UK would seek concessions to enable it to engage with other territories towards its own free trade agreements and not be bound by the Common External Tariff.

The process of leaving Europe, which can only formally begin once Article 50 is triggered, is expected to take at least two years.

source: Tax-news