In a statement, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation writes that it is calling for urgent action over a big blunder over at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
Figures released by HMRC for January stated that 80 tonnes of Scottish salmon had been exported to Europe. Official EU Eurostat import figures put the figure at 4,500 tonnes while Scottish salmon producers said they exported close to 5,000 tonnes of fish in January 2021.
Following the end of the transition period, the reporting process for submitting export volumes and values to the EU changed. Previous submissions via Intrastat were no longer required and submissions are now required through the CHIEF (Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight) system. Exports to outside of the EU have been ongoing for years so systems have been in place to account for the EU becoming a ‘third country’.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee on Thursday, Hamish Macdonell, Director of Strategic Engagement for the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), told MPs there was a real issue over the validity of the export statistics that had been put out by the UK Government.
“Scotland’s salmon producers sent about 5,000 tonnes of salmon to Europe in January. The Eurostat system which records how much Scottish salmon went into the EU records about 4,500 tonnes arriving there,” said Macdonell.
“Yet according to the official HMRC figures published on behalf of the UK Government, we only exported 80 tonnes, which is only about three per-cent of the amount that actually went there,” he added.
The SSPO said that something happened to do with the way the figures were collected, and they don’t know who is to blame or where the problem has come from.
“But unless we can get a really proper baseline of how much fish is actually going into Europe it is impossible to tell what the impact of Brexit is,” added Macdonell.
“There is an investigation ongoing and the HMRC are looking into where that discrepancy has come from,” said Under Secretary of State for Scotland David Duguid MP.