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It’s the economic equivalent of Union Jack bunting. Today, in a move surely masterminded by the Great British Bake Off’s PR manager, the Government announced that the UK’s economic prosperity may be rescued by the traditionally British delights of tea and biscuits.
Of course, the truth is more complex than it sounds, and relates to the Government’s increasing focus on the UK export sector. So, butter yourself a scone (don’t forget the cream) as we take a look at the facts behind the headlines.
The positioning of jam as an economic saviour began shortly after the referendum.
Earlier this year, Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, encouraged a private gathering of Conservative party members to embrace exporting, stating the UK had grown ‘too fat‘ on its successes. According to the MP’s website: “The demand is out there. You could be too”.
Top of Mr Fox’s list? ‘Innovative jam’.
Just what would make a jam innovative remains to be seen, but Twitter certainly had some fun with ideas…
Today, fuel was added to the fire (or should that be sugar to the tea), as the Government announced plans to increase food and drink exports by 2.9bn by 2020, with the bulk of that being to non-EU countries. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), headed up by Andrea Leadsom, believes that exporting jam, biscuits and tea to Japan could add an extra 185m in exports, whilst shipping out whisky and gin to Mexico could add an extra 215m.
France and Germany export double the amount of food and drink that the UK does, whilst Britain is currently in an ‘export deficit’ when it comes to consumables – exporting 18bn worth of product, compared to the 38.5bn it imports. Currently, around ⅔ of food exports go to EU countries. The Government will look to reverse these trends.
“Our food and drink is renowned for having the very best standards of animal welfare, quality and safety and I want even more of the world to enjoy what we have to offer,”
The UK economy is in uncertain times, with the weak pound spelling trouble for imports, and the service sector concerned about exiting the single market. However, bolstered by the fall in sterling, exports are booming, and these announcements are the latest indications that the Government sees exporting as a cornerstone of the post-Brexit economy. The Express has reported that they are even considering introducing an export tax credit that would offset any costs incurred by trading with foreign markets.
Business Insider magazine has referred to the move as ‘British Jam’s Big Bang’ in reference to the ‘Big Bang’ policy of the 1980s, which deregulated the financial industry and helped to position London as a global banking centre. With UK based finance institutions jittery at the thought of losing the EU’s financial passport, which allows them to operate freely throughout the bloc, it seems the Government is shifting focus to physical goods.
For more information on the UK’s food and drink sector, check out DEFRA’s ‘Great British Food’ campaign website.
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