The Tory government is gearing up to take protections away from East Lothian’s iconic food and drinks industries in order to strike post-Brexit trade deals, SNP MSP Colin Beattie has warned.
The UK Minister of State for Trade Policy confirmed during an appearance before Holyrood’s Finance Committee this week that neither the Scottish Government nor the Scottish Parliament would be granted a formal say in future trade negotiations.
On Geographical Indication (GI) Protections, for Scotch Beef and Scottish Salmon for example, the UK minister, George Hollingbery MP said:
“In most free trade deals, certainly the ones I’ve looked at recently, you have to demonstrate a certain level of penetration into market and or desire amongst consumers for that GI to gain protection, so on the whole quite a few UK GIs which we promote fail that test when going to the Japanese market or say the South Korean market. Whisky, no problem at all. Amazingly, blue and white stilton actually quite often get through but there are several others, which we would like to protect which just don’t have sufficient penetration to warrant GI status in that market.”
The EU Protected Food Name scheme safeguards produce on the basis of geographical status or traditional recipe or method, giving legal protection against imitation and ensuring that premium products are not undermined.
On safeguarding Scottish food standards from an influx of chlorine washed chicken and hormone injected beef, the minister also commented:
“That will all be a matter for negotiation - there are offensive interests, there are defensive interests, there are some things you refuse to accept, there are other things you may have to give and all that in the end will come out in the wash.”
The Tories have already failed to protect Scottish products in the EU-Canada trade deal, setting a worrying precedent.
Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP, Colin Beattie said:
“It is alarming that the Tory trade minister confirmed the SNP’s fear this week – that the Tory government is gearing up to take protections away from East Lothian in order to strike a quick trade deal in markets like Japan and South Korea.
“It is completely unacceptable that we could be in a position in the near future where UK trade deals are imposed on us from London that do not properly protect the interests of East Lothian’s iconic food and drink brands, leaving them open to cheap knock-offs from abroad.
"The Tory government must immediately set out provisions for enhanced involvement of the devolved administrations in trade negotiations.
“We cannot afford to put East Lothian’s valuable food and drink sectors in the hands of the Tory Brexiteers, who think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it.”