Defra and the Department for International Trade (DIT) have launched a ‘bounce back’ plan to help farmers hit by the coronavirus boost overseas sales.
The package of measures will offer immediate support to help businesses capitalise on new investment opportunities, including those offered by the range of trade agreements currently being negotiated with the USA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The plans include a new programme of events tailored to help exporters, such as an overseas virtual buyer trial, a ‘Smart Distance Selling Process’ and a series of ‘Ready to Trade’ Exporting Masterclass webinars.
A new SME E-Commerce Accelerator pilot will also be launched on the back of DIT’s existing E-exporting Programme, with the aim of increasing the level of international e-commerce backing for small to medium-sized food and drink businesses.
In order to boost exports to the Gulf, Defra’s first Agri-Food Counsellor serving the area will be appointed, and 50 Food and Drink Export Champions will be used to stimulate sales across the rest of the globe.
AHDB’s international market development director Dr Phil Hadley welcomed the Government’s announcement, pointing out coronavirus has had a big impact on UK exports.
He said: “We are very encouraged to see this ‘bounce back’ plan, which will provide significant support to many of the UK businesses we assist in growing their overseas trade.
“We hope many will benefit from new trade and investment opportunities, so AHDB, in partnership with Government, can continue to put UK produce on the tables of more households around the world.”
Minister for Export Graham Stuart said trade was ‘absolutely critical’ to help UK agriculture recover from the effects of the pandemic.
“The package of measures we have announced… will get the industry ready to capitalise on the opportunities which are being opened up by the series of free trade agreements my department is negotiating around the world,” he said.
NFU EU exit and international trade adviser Lucia Zitti also described the bounce back plan as ‘encouraging’.
“Proper promotion of the British brand is essential and it is good to see the Government is committing additional investment into this area,” she said.
“In particular, the NFU has been calling for an expansion of the agri-food counsellors network, so we are pleased to see this beginning to take shape.”