Warnings ‘trade war’ could lead to further delays for seafood exports

Fears have been raised that a “trade war” could hit seafood exporters hard.

The Scottish government’s economy secretary Kate Forbes has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for solutions to ease trade with EU counties.

Ms Forbes said the UK government’s current approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol talks could threaten a “trade war” while also breaching international law.

The letter states: “The food and drink sector in Scotland and the UK has borne the brunt of the hard Brexit pursued by the UK government, particularly through the loss of freedom of movement and free trade.

“A trade war could lead to further delays to exports, including in sectors like seafood where there is a premium on freshness, further bureaucracy and barriers and potentially crippling tariffs.”

Ms Forbes said it was “increasingly clear” that the post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU was failing to deliver for many businesses and the UK government’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol talks was “exacerbating matters”.

“This has serious implications for key parts of Scotland’s food and drink sector – such as the ongoing impasse over the export of seed potatoes – while also impacting other crucial areas like the UK’s legal association to the vital Horizon Europe research programme,” she wrote.

“The evolved governments have direct interests at stake in the protocol, particularly in trade and border control, yet despite repeated requests the UK government has shown no willingness to engage on these issues and we are excluded from discussions.”

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