Scotland’s world-leading food and drinks sector is at risk, the SNP has warned
Today’s Times has reported that the International Trade Secretary has written to Westminster Cabinet colleagues advocating bypassing Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in trade deals and denying the devolved governments a veto.
This would mean that the decision taken by the democratically elected governments of Wales and Scotland to ban the production of genetically modified foods, could be overruled, setting a dangerous precedent for the future.
Commenting SNP International Trade spokesperson Hannah Bardell MP said:
“The International Trade Secretary wants to gamble with the future of our £14 billion food and drink sector and give himself unbridled power to allow American chicken, beef and genetically modified foods into the UK, thus overruling the decision taken in Scotland and Wales to ban the production GM foods.
“This news comes the same week the Food and Drink Federation confirmed that Scottish produce has propelled the UK to export a record value of food and drink – with Scotch Whisky, salmon, and beer remaining the top three UK exports. Scottish salmon exports for the first half of 2017 reached a record value of £346m and the rise in beer exports is no accident given that the number of breweries in Scotland has more than doubled in the last six years.
“Liam Fox’s letter confirms that the Tories’ ‘take back control’ rhetoric will have the opposite meaning for Scotland as Westminster tries to centralise more power and overrule democratic decisions taken in Scotland.
“The UK’s global reputation may be in tatters but we want to maintain Scotland’s wholesome, clean, green reputation where, when it comes to food and drink, provenance of product is paramount.
“With the next round of negotiations nearing, the UK government must meaningfully engage with the devolved governments to ensure that their interests are protected, and that protecting Scotland’s place in the European single market and customs union matters, not least to everyone all around Scotland who are employed in the food and drinks sector.
“We cannot let Westminster use Brexit as smokescreen for a power grab that will leave Scotland worse off.”
“Fox tries to bypass Scots and Welsh in bid for trade deals” – story appears on p.20 of today’s The Times newspaper
In the first half of the year (2017), UK food and drink exports rose faster to EU countries, up 9%, than to countries outside the EU, with growth of 7.6%.
HMRC UK QUARTER 2 EXPORT STATS –SALMON & WHISKY
– 29,000 tonnes of fresh Atlantic salmon worth £190m was exported from the UK in Q2 2017. All Atlantic salmon produced for export in the UK is Scottish.
– This represents a 22% increase in value and 26% increase in volume from Q1 2017 exports.
– Salmon exports increased from £205m in the first six months of 2016 to £346m in the first six months of 2017 – an increase of 70% in value and 42% in volume.
– The EU was the biggest single regional market for Salmon worth £145m in the first 6 months of 2017.
Scotch Whisky exports
– In the first 6 months of 2017 (Jan-June), Scotch whisky exports from the UK were valued at approx. £1.8 billion, up 3.3% (£57 million) compared to the same period in 2016. The majority (£1.2 billion or 69%) of Scotch exports in the first half of 2017, were to non-EU markets. However the EU was the biggest single market for Scotch Exports worth £554m.
Food and Drink Federation (FDF) findings – https://www.fdf.org.uk/news.aspx?article=7855