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Food & Drink Federation expresses frustration over Brexit progress

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The trade organisation for the food and drink industries in the UK has expressed its disappointment over the latest round of Brexit talks.

The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March next year

The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March next year

The Food & Drink Federation (FDF) said today that a lack of "concrete progress" at this week's European Council meeting puts the industries at risk. The FDF also highlighted what it called the prolonged uncertainty around the Irish border.

"The lack of concrete progress at this crucial stage in the Brexit negotiations is very disappointing," said FDF chief executive Ian Wright. "The success of the UK's GBP112bn (US$146.7bn) food and drink supply chain hinges upon manufacturers having easy access to vital imported ingredients and to export markets. Remarkably, businesses are still unclear what arrangements they will face in March 2019 - let alone the end destination for our future trading relationship or the compatibility of food regulations with the EU."

Wright called uncertainty over the future of Irish border a "huge concern".

"Ingredients, finished products and people travel freely between Northern Ireland and the Republic several times a day," he said. "Agrifood and drink makes up the majority of all goods traded across the UK's only land border with the EU. We need the UK and the EU27 to redouble their efforts to strike a realistic solution."

Wright also called for headway to be made in negotiations with those countries with which EU has negotiated a trade deal.

"Not only are they worth more than 10% of the UK's export market in food and drink, but they are an essential source of raw materials which cannot be sourced here. Any disruption in supply is a serious concern for the competitiveness of UK manufacturers. The threat of a hidden hard Brexit arising from damaging rules of origin remains a major concern for food and drink manufacturers.

"Our food and drink supply chains are fragile and highly interdependent. We take food security for granted at our peril."

The FDF's concerns mirror those made earlier in the week by SpiritsEurope. The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March next year.

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