The deal that we achieved with the EU based on zero tariffs and zero quotas, provides cheese and other dairy producers with the certainty that they require to continue trading with the EU.
The lower level of cheese exports to the EU for the start of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020, needs to take account of a unique combination of factors. These include the impact of reduced demand in the EU due to Covid-19 lockdowns and businesses adjusting to a new trading relationship. The decline has also been partly balanced by a significant increase of cheese exports to the EU towards the end of 2020 compared with previous years. Provisional HMRC 2021 data on cheese exports volumes in February also indicates a notable improvement on January. This is in line with the larger recovery from the initial disruptions to overall agri-food exports between January and February.
We are providing a range of support to help businesses adjust to our new trading arrangements with the EU and to seize the fantastic opportunities to trade around the world. The majority of businesses are adapting well to the new requirements. Our focus is now on making sure that any business that is still facing challenges gets the support they need.
The Government is also stepping up delivery of its manifesto commitment to build demand and promote British food both home and abroad. We are working with the sector to raise domestic and international awareness of the UK’s reputation for high-quality food and drink produced to high standards of food safety, animal welfare and sustainability. This will provide a catalyst for growth for all regions of the UK and increase global recognition of the UK as an innovative food nation.