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Export Barriers for Food and Farming Businesses

Volume 727: debated on Thursday 9 February 2023

4. What recent progress her Department has made on tackling export barriers for food and farming businesses. (903567)

May I also pay tribute to you for the way that you welcomed President Zelensky here yesterday, Mr Speaker? The occasion made us even more proud to be British.

Over the financial year up to March 2022, we did away with 192 barriers across 79 countries, including by opening up markets for UK poultry meat in Japan, and for UK pork in Mexico—a market that will be worth £50 million to UK pork producers in the first five years of trade. Of course, Cornwall is home to fantastic British produce, such as Cornish yarg and clotted cream, which are promoted and recognised around the globe through the GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland campaign, and at home through our “Made in the UK, sold to the world” marketing strategy.

I have to mention Cornish blue and Cornish Gouda, which are made in my constituency. South East Cornwall farmers are rightly proud of their excellent produce. What more can the Department do to help these small businesses access the widest possible market?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: we should be very proud of the food and drink sector. It is our largest manufacturing sector—larger than automotive and aerospace put together. Our Export Academy delivers specialist food and drink modules to get companies started, and our Export Support Service can answer questions on export markets in Europe. Companies can access our network of international trade advisers across England, and the Department has teams in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It is over a year since the announcement of eight additional agrifood and drink attachés. Given that there was yet another gloomy report from the British Chambers of Commerce last month, which said that three quarters of SMEs anticipated zero or negative export growth this year, help is certainly needed. Will the Minister tell us what specialist training the attachés have completed on food and drink regulation in the relevant countries? How many UK SMEs have they helped to find new markets, and what is the value of any new exports that they have secured?

I am very happy to engage with the hon. Lady on that question, which had a number of other questions within it. As she knows, we have staff in more than 100 markets, and are building our existing attaché roles in China, Japan and the Gulf region. The Government are placing eight new dedicated UK agriculture, food and drink attachés in growth markets such as the US, Canada, Africa, India, South America, Brazil and Mexico.