‘Golden opportunity’ for Australia but not for Scotland’s food & drink sector


Categories: News

Today in the House of Commons, I questioned the Trade Secretary Liz Truss on the UK government’s rush to sign a trade deal with Australia which could see us flooded with cheap exports of beef, lamb and dairy to the detriment of many of our own producers.

I said: “Argyll & Bute overwhelmingly rejected Brexit because, we knew what it would do to our shellfish and farming industries.
“Now we find that 35,000 tonnes of beef and 25,000 tonnes of lamb are about to enter the UK, tariff free.
“Australian farmers are openly celebrating this deal, while farmers across Scotland are understandably furious at this sell-out of their industry.
“So will the Minister explain to the farming community in my constituency why they too should be celebrating this deal and how – in the words of the Prime Minister –  the UK market being flooded with cheap, factory-farmed, inferior produced, meat is “a golden opportunity” for them?”

Her response – to blame us in the SNP of “ludicrous scaremongering” – was nothing more than I would expect from a government that’s been determined to pursue Brexit at any cost and sign trade deals wherever they can find them regardless of the massive impact this will have on Scotland and it’s world-leading farming and fishing industries, which pride themselves on quality produce and high animal welfare standards.

A top priority must be to reduce the scale of non-tariff barriers that have been introduced between the UK and EU

A joint letter from Scotland’s food and drink producers and supply chain, June 10, 2021

As the joint letter sent to the Trade Secretary from Scotland’s farming, fishing and food and drink producers, including Scotland Food & Drink, NFU Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland, the Scottish Seafood Association, and the Road Haulage Association amongst others, last week said: “We should be under no illusion that the EU market remains the most important export market, with it being the destination for two thirds of all food exports. The new trading arrangements post-Brexit with our biggest export market, on our doorstep, have made this market most costly, complex and high risk to supply to.

“The detail in the TCA deal, which had virtually no time for scrutiny, continues to be hugely problematic, particularly in regard to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. A top priority must be to reduce the scale of non-tariff barriers that have been introduced between the UK and EU and we consider the TCA deal as a cautionary tale in striking trade deals and then, on implementation, having to manage a range of significant and costly consequences.”