Industry bodies from across Europe have teamed up to press Brussels for a ‘comprehensive’ free trade agreement with the UK after Brexit.
The push was revealed by Alexander Doring, director general of the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC), as he spoke at the Agribusiness conference in Peterborough today.
Outlining how much the European agri-food sector’s trade with the UK was worth, he said: “From our side, we try to anticipate the post-Brexit situation and are calling for a comprehensive free trade agreement between the UK and the EU27 which maintains EU standards, which we still believe will be the best outcome for both the EU and the UK.
“In future, we need Brexit negotiators to recognise the significant economic interdependency which will stay after Brexit.
“The UK will be the number one export country from an agri-food perspective, by far and away.
“Japan is right now, but Japan does not even have half of the trade volumes we will continue to have in direct transactions with the UK post-Brexit.”
Mr Doring was optimistic about the prospect of a UK-EU trade deal being signed, but concerned by potential obstacles in the shorter-term.
“If you put it in terms of what Brussels’ view is, I think there is less to worry about in the long-term”, he said.
“There is a great deal of faith and goodwill to develop a future infrastructure in terms of a comprehensive free trade agreement, but the real worry is day one after Brexit.
“We have to make sure we have the right administrative capacity and infrastructure in place to deal with the new order.”
Mr Doring’s comments came as the Trump administration warned a quick trade deal with the US would be unlikely unless the UK agreed to allow GM crops and chlorinated chicken to be sold in Britain.
Speaking at a Confederation of British Industry event this week, Wilbur Ross, the American Commerce Secretary, said any attempt on the part of Britain to maintain EU regulations would ‘hinder development of a closer post-Brexit US-UK relationship’.