Raise a glass: Britain's beer exports rose in 2016, making it the third most valuable food or drink export

Courtney Goldsmith
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David Cameron And Chinese President Xi Jinping Visit Princes Risborough Pub
Chinese drinkers have a growing interest in Britain's beer (Source: Getty)

British beer exports rose six per cent in 2016 according to new figures published by the HMRC, making beer the UK's third most valuable food and drink export.

Chinese interest in British beer skyrocketed last year, rising 500 per cent following pictures of Chinese President Xi Jinping enjoying a pint with former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015.

The UK's second-largest craft brewer Innis & Gunn last week announced it's struck up a deal with a distributor in Asia to send its beers to pubs and shops in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Exports to India jumped by 417 per cent in 2016 while exports to the EU showed solid growth of five per cent. Overall, exports to non-EU nations rose by six per cent.

With a value of £584m, British beer is the UK’s third most valuable food and drink export.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) is working up an export strategy to support the government's food and drink action plan and to help chart a path for continued export growth in post-Brexit Britain.

"Continuing tariff-free access to our biggest market is essential as we leave the European Union, and our new export strategy will underline this," said Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA.

Currently, 63 per cent of Britain’s beer exports go to the EU.

"In addition, our strategy will set Brexit as an opportunity for government to move towards a more competitive tax regime, which will help brewers invest and trade in developing markets around the world," Simmonds said.

The BBPA is also urging the government to reduce the beer duty in next week's Budget, saying a high tax rate acts as a barrier to the investment needed to foster further growth.

"It is vital, that given these challenges, the government shows its support for our brewing industry, which produces beers that are sought after the world over."

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