Safeguarding the food and drink sector

15 May 2022 03:53 PM

Chancellor urged to avoid trade war.

The UK Government must not introduce legislation which breaks international law, but instead find sustainable solutions to help ease trade between the UK and EU countries, according to Economy Secretary Kate Forbes.

In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ms Forbes outlines concerns that the approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol talks is bringing threats of a trade war. She also says that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement is failing to deliver for many sectors, including food and drink businesses in Scotland. 

The letter states:

“I am deeply concerned about ongoing threats by the UK Government to introduce legislation to breach international law.

“The food and drink sector in Scotland and the UK has borne the brunt of the hard Brexit pursued by the UK Government, particularly through the loss of freedom of movement and free trade. A trade war could lead to further delays to exports, including in sectors like seafood where there is a premium on freshness, further bureaucracy and barriers and potentially crippling tariffs.

“It is increasingly clear that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement is failing to deliver for many businesses, and that the UK Government’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol talks is exacerbating matters. This has serious implications for key parts of Scotland’s food and drink sector – such as the ongoing impasse over the export of seed potatoes – while also impacting other crucial areas like the UK’s legal association to the vital Horizon Europe research programme.

“The Devolved Governments have direct interests at stake in the Protocol, particularly in trade and border control, yet despite repeated requests the UK Government has shown no willingness to engage on these issues and we are excluded from discussions.”

Background

Read the letter in full here.

The food and drink sector generates turnover of £15 billion each year with overseas exports worth £6.2 billion. Scotland has over 17,000 food and drink businesses, which employ around 119,000 people, many in remote and economically fragile rural and island communities.