No deal on Brexit will be disastrous for UK food industry, MPs warn
Commons Business Committee warns exports will be hit and prices will rise if Britain reverts to WTO rules.
Failure to secure a free trade deal with the European Union will be “disastrous” for Britain’s £28 billion processed food and drinks industry, MPs have warned.
The cross-party Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said a reversion to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would have a “seismic impact” on the country’s largest manufacturing sector.
It warned that without full access to EU markets, exports of processed products such as chocolate, cheese, beef, pork and soft drinks would suffer while consumers in the UK would face higher prices and less choice on the supermarket shelves.
The committee said British participation in the single market and customs union had led to an “over reliance” on EU markets which accounted for 60% of the £22 billion in processed food and drinks exports in 2017.
A no deal scenario would be unviable and unacceptable to the sector as, at least in the short term, the EU is the UK’s main trading partner Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee
It said the industry, which employs 400,000 people – a third of them EU nationals – would “undeniably suffer” if Britain left without a trade deal and was forced to fall back on WTO rules.
“The EU’s most favoured nation tariffs under WTO rules would be disastrous for UK exports and must be avoided at all cost,” the committee said.
“A no deal scenario would be unviable and unacceptable to the sector as, at least in the short term, the EU is the UK’s main trading partner. It would also have serious repercussions for importers of UK products in the EU and the rest of the world.”