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Food and Drink Exporters

Volume 705: debated on Thursday 9 December 2021

I am sure the whole House will join me in welcoming the news that the US market is reopening its doors to UK lamb after two decades of restrictions. We want people at home and abroad to line up to buy British. We are establishing an export council and expanding our network of agrifood attachés.

New Zealand currently exports £4.8 billion-worth of meat per annum, including £1.8 billion-worth to the Muslim world via a national scheme. Will the Minister agree to meet me and the Minister for Exports, my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer), to discuss setting up a similar UK-wide scheme that could potentially open up millions of pounds’ worth of exports for our farming industry?

I would, of course, be delighted to meet my hon. Friend, as I have in the past. He is a great trade envoy to Pakistan. We work very closely on this with Ministers in the Department for International Trade, and we see significant opportunities for British agriculture in markets across the world, including the US, Japan, India and the middle east. We will be well represented at the Gulfood exhibition in February.

Exporting agrifood is fairly straightforward if it is wholly produced in the UK. Where part of it is imported from the EU or elsewhere, there are complicated rules of origin. What is the Minister doing to improve the situation so that exporting becomes much easier?

There is no doubt that the rules of origin are complicated. We regularly meet our colleagues in the EU to discuss issues raised by our exporters, and we work collaboratively to resolve them where we can. We have also set up a new export support service to help businesses navigate the EU’s requirements. I would be delighted to meet any hon. Member who has a constituent with a specific problem.

Free trade agreements like the one with New Zealand are the biggest contributor to British farmers needing to improve productivity. What recent discussions has the Minister had with colleagues across Government on protecting farmers’ interests in future agreements? As I said, we work very closely with colleagues, particularly in the Department for International Trade, and I am confident they understand the issues raised by our farmers.