AHDB ponders the risks and rewards of post-Brexit trade policies

The UK’s post-Brexit trade policies could bring great risks for some sectors and great rewards for other, and will almost certainly bring significant change for all, according the latest “Horizon report” published today by the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB).

Following on from two previous Brexit reports, the new 44-page analysis focuses on the implications of future trade policy scenarios for UK farming, drawing the conclusion that increasing productivity and profitability across the supply chain will be critical in the post-Brexit world. This is seen as being especially true of sectors where major global exporters are able to price more competitively than producers in the UK.

“Across all sectors, trade with the EU will be changed radically if the UK loses tariff-free access to the EU single market and imposes tariffs on EU imports,” states the report. “Whether these will represent an opportunity or threat depends on each sector’s reliance on imports and exports, both within and without the EU. In common with all sectors, the policy of other governments, as well as the UK’s, will be the deciding factor.

“Despite this diversity, some common themes arise throughout. Food exports and imports are largely driven by consumer choice and both AHDB and the industry need to continue to work to help shape those choices.

“Equally, recognising opportunity and negotiating access in new and emerging markets will be vital to sustainability in the global marketplace.”

AHDB’s Stephen Howarth, who co-authored the report, added that the sustainability and viability of food production businesses in the UK are underpinned by its relationship with the rest of the world.

“The balance of imports and exports, as well as our levels of self-sufficiency, however, vary widely from sector to sector,” he said. “We’ve therefore taken a long, hard look at where those differences are and how they could be turned into an opportunity in future. This will help farm businesses and their supply chains anticipate the impacts of trade policy better as Brexit negotiations unfold and plan accordingly.”

The report covers AHDB’s levy-paying sectors – dairy, beef, lamb, pork, cereals and oilseeds, potatoes and horticulture. It also looks at poultry meat in the context of its relationship with the red meat market.

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