UK announces “bounce back” plan to boost COVID-hit businesses

The British government unveiled a package of measures to support businesses for the agriculture, food and drink industry, which have been greatly suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dubbed as “bounce back” plan, it introduces a new program of physical and virtual events that have been tailored to help a variety of businesses and exporters, including an overseas virtual buyer trial, a “Smart Distance Selling Process” and a package of “Ready to Trade” Exporting Masterclass webinars, Xinhua news agency.

Jointly launched by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the plan will offer “immediate support” to help businesses in the industry develop their trade activity overseas, said an official statement.

Leveraging DIT’s existing E-exporting Program, the department also launches a new SME (medium-sized enterprise) E-commerce Accelerator Pilot to increase the level of international e-commerce backing for SMEs in the food and drink industry.

“The plan will provide unprecedented help for small and SMEs and allow them to capitalise on trade agreements being negotiated by DIT with Japan, US, Australia and New Zealand,” it said.

The plan will also see the introduction of Defra’s first Agri-food Counsellor serving the Gulf, read the statement.

“The measures introduced today will support producers, manufacturers and agri-tech companies across the food supply chain,” said the statement.

“More trade is absolutely critical to helping the UK’s agriculture, food and drink industry recover from the impact of coronavirus. It will also get the industry ready to capitalise on the opportunities that are being opened up by the series of free trade agreements that my department is negotiating around the world,” said Graham Stuart, minister for export in the DIT.

According to official figures, the agriculture, food and drink industry contributed 121 billion pounds (about US $150 billion) to Britain’s economy in 2018, supporting around 4 million jobs.

In 2019, Britain’s food, feed and drink exports were worth 23.7 billion pounds (US $29.4 billion), up 4.9 per cent from 2018.