UKHospitality has welcomed the government’s acknowledgement of the importance and prioritisation of the food and drinks industry in its Brexit white paper, published on 12 July.
The trade body praised the government for its proposal of a free trade area, which will see a “friction free” trade at the border with the UK possibly committing to treaty to ensure the ongoing harmonisation with the relevant EU rules.
A phased introduction of a new Facilitated Customs Arrangement is also expected to remove the need for customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU.
The white paper also proposed to allow EU citizens to come to the UK for tourism and temporary work, without the need of a visa. This is a potentially welcome move as a recent KMPG reported stated that 75% of waiters and waitresses, 25% of chefs who worked in the UK hospitality sector were from the EU.
The government also said it would allow free movement for skilled workers and students from the EU.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We are also pleased that there appears to be no major deviation from previously stated positions, particularly the ability EU citizens to be able to work in the UK. It is vitally important that there is no friction in trade with the EU, and that goods – food specifically – is able to be traded to suit the Just In Time method that many hospitality businesses will need.
“It’s reassuring to see the government acknowledging the need for such smooth UK-EU trade. UKHospitality will continue to be in near-constant dialogue with the government, to promote the interests of the hospitality sector and ensure that businesses are not disadvantaged by Brexit.
“We also await the forthcoming report by the Migration Advisory Committee and will be liaising with the MAC to ensure that the sector has access to the talent it needs.”