British Meat Processors Association
British Meat Processors Association

MP’s question ministers on lack of coherent agrifood trade strategy

Business and Trade Minister Greg Hands and Defra Minister Sir Mark Spencer both faced questions from the EFRA committee of MPs this week. Concerns were raised about the lack of a coherent trade strategy for food and agriculture and a lack of detail around the UK’s stance in trade negotiations. This was countered by Mark Spencer who compared sharing too much detail to showing one’s poker hand.

Greg Hans noted that multiple departments are involved in negotiations, requiring cooperation to align strategies and mandates and Mark Spencer added his role involving talks with the Department for Business and Trade team to set goals and limits for negotiations. He stressed that private talks were vital for understanding each department’s position before continuing with negotiations that involve potential sector trade-offs.

The ministers were adamant that cross-departmental cooperation is working very well and that the wider impacts of decisions made by one department are considered as a result, with sector-specific objectives as well as devolved administration interests being well represented. Indeed Greg Hands spoke of An “updated stakeholder management structure” which is aimed at increasing the effectiveness of sector engagement.

Both ministers reflected on the participation of industry in negotiations, noting the presence of business delegations on trade missions but stressing the need to avoid direct involvement in negotiations to keep strategic decision-making abilities. They explained that industry input is usually gathered outside the negotiation room after understanding the potential impacts on the respective sectors.

Recently the Prime Minister committed to developing a Food Security Index to analyse UK food security. The index is intended to be a good indicator of the UK’s food security status, considering multiple factors. The combined impact of trade deals, both cumulatively and individually, will be monitored and reflected in the Food Security Index. We are particularly interested in how this is developed as food security is of key strategic importance going forward.

The meeting also covered issues surrounding food labelling including ‘Not for EU’ labelling. They also spoke about import checks from 30 April and the potential impacts that will have on businesses, trade and food prices.

Listen to the full meeting

About BMPA

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) is the leading trade association for the meat and meat products industry in the UK.


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