Warning Tory Brexit threatens record success of Scottish food and drink sector
SALES of quality food and drink products from Scotland to global markets has surge to an all time high, newly released figures show.
Exports numbers point to a record £5.5bn in sales of Scots whisky, beef, salmon, and other goods to international locations for 2016. Over half of that total - which increased by £421m in a single year - goes to European Union destinations now threatened by the Tory Hard Brexit plan to leave the single market.
Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Since this government came into office, the value of food exports has more than doubled. Food and drink is now one of the standout success stories in our economy, increasing growth and supporting jobs across the country.
“Our produce has an excellent reputation around the world and it's clear the industry is going from strength to strength. The increased collaboration between industry and public sector and the Food and Drink Export Plan are helping this by identifying opportunities to support businesses and breaking down the barriers to trade.
“These figures show the importance of retaining access to the vital European markets, which are currently worth £2.3bn to the sector, and represent our largest export market.
"We shouldn't have to face the choice between remaining as part of the UK and the EU single market. The pursuit of a hard Brexit is a major threat to this success and these figures show why we must work to protect Scotland's place in Europe.
“Scotland's food and drink sector is in fantastic health, and next week's strategy launch will outline how we plan to support the industry to build upon this success and further grow the sector to 2030.”
“Well I am afraid, I have to say.” Scotland Food and Drink CEO James Withers on Tory Brexit statements
The growth in food and drink - one of Scotland’s export success stories - is threatened by possible tariffs imposed on Scotland-EU trade as a result of the Tory Brexit plan.
The Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink James Withers warned that he was “afraid” that the failure to agree a trade deal to replace EU membership would end trade into key markets.
Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, he said: “I’ve heard UK government ministers say we shouldn’t be afraid of leaving the EU without a trade deal. Well I am afraid, I have to say.
“Products like Scotch beef, if we defaulted to World Trade Organisation tariffs, the price of that product going into a country like France, which is a huge market for us, could potentially double – and that could knock us out of that market.”
Image courtesy of John Haslam
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