The food sector is among the sectors of the UK economy expected to be negatively impacted by all three scenarios outlined in a leaked Brexit impact assessment, seen by BuzzFeed News.
The assessment, called EU Exit Analysis – Cross Whitehall Briefing is said to be dated January 2018 and has looked at three of the “most plausible” Brexit scenarios based on existing EU arrangements.
The three scenarios include a comprehensive free trade deal, single market access and no deal at all, forecasting that UK growth would be lower under any of them – 5% down under a comprehensive free trade agreement, 7% under a no-deal scenario and 2% under the softer Brexit option.
Every UK region is also expected to be negatively affected in all the modelled scenarios, with the north east, the west Midlands and Northern Ireland reportedly facing the biggest drops in economic performance.
On the other hand, assuming in all scenarios that a trade with the US will be reached, the analysis claims that it would benefit the UK’s GDP by about 0.2% in the long term.
What’s more, trade deals with other non-EU countries, including China, India, Australia, the Gulf countries and the nations of Southeast Asia are expected to add, in total, a further 0.1% to 0.4% to GDP over the long term.
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has joined certain Conservative MPs and the Labour party in asking for the impact report to be published, with an FDF spokesperson noting: “FDF has repeatedly stated that the food and drink sector will be one of the industries most affected by Brexit, and the leaked assessment papers are acknowledgement from Government that they believe this to be the case too.
“Government has a duty to share this analysis with the sector so businesses can prepare.
The spokesperson added: “As the largest manufacturing sector, food and drink’s success has been built on a close trading and regulatory relationship with the EU for over 40 years.
“We are calling on Government to lock down a status quo, no change transition period by March so business can have confidence in day one readiness on both sides of the Channel. In terms of our future relationship, it is vital that the negotiations achieve four key outcomes – frictionless, tariff-free trade, access to our valued EU workforce, a stable regulatory regime and a special deal for Ireland.”
The director general of the Food and Drink Federation, Ian Wright, and the director general of the Provision Trade Federation, Andrew Kuyk, warned a Parliamentary Committee on Brexit’s implications for the processed food industry in December.
Giving their evidence, Wright and Kuyk had identified labour and availability of labour, uncertainty over Brexit and tariff barriers as the biggest concerns of the industry.