Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, has highlighted an issue in PM Theresa May’s draft Brexit withdrawal agreement, which could affect tariffs.
In a press release just posted on the SSPO site, Hesketh-Laird says that the proposed Brexit deal raises some serious questions for Scotland’s most prized export. In the draft declaration on Britain’s future relationship with the European Union, farmed fish has been coupled in with the catching sector, which the SSPO highlights as problematic. This would link all Europe seafood exports to North Sea quotas and access to waters.
“We have been clear that a negotiated outcome between the UK and the EU is preferable to a ‘no-deal’ scenario. Exiting the EU without a deal would almost certainly place fresh barriers in the way of the export of farmed salmon to the continent. As a result, the SSPO believes it would be better to have an agreement which continues to allow frictionless trade with the continent than no agreement at all,” said Hesketh-Laird.
Coupling aquaculture with future catch fish quotas
The Scottish salmon industry is, by far, the country’s top food export in value. In 2016, companies reported an export value to the European Union totalling GPB 260 million, a rise of 46% compared to the previous year. In volume, this represents over 30% of total production and 75% of salmon exports from Scotland. The success of Scottish salmon in the European Union has been aided by unfettered access to the markets. However, Ms Hesketh-Laird added that future trade talks of tariffs raises serious questions.
“By coupling aquaculture with future catch fish quotas, this document raises the prospect of tariffs being imposed on exports of farmed fish if there is no agreement on North Sea white fish quotas. It also raises the prospect of border checks for fresh salmon exiting the UK bound for our biggest export market – the EU,” she added.
We are clear
“We accept that this would only happen if the proposed agreement is implemented unamended and if there is no mutually acceptable deal on fisheries being reached. But it is included in the text around the ‘backstop’ and, as such, remains a risk. It is a risk the farmed sector is determined to avoid.
Speaking on behalf on the industry, Hesketh-Laird said: “We are clear: there must be no linkage between access for EU vessels to UK waters and the tariff-free supply of seafood products to EU markets.
The association said that it would continue to study the 26-page draft political declaration (a separate document to the 585-page withdrawal agreement) published last week, in detail to look to both the UK and Scottish governments for their own analysis of the impacts of the proposed deal on farmed Scottish salmon.
“In the meantime, we shall continue to push for the continued, tariff-free export of the premium, niche product that is Scottish farmed salmon to the EU after Brexit, with no additional conditions attached,” concluded Hesketh-Laird.