As the trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand enters into force, Scotland’s rural affairs secretary has urged the UK government to participate more in discussions about upcoming agreements.
On Wednesday, the first agreements reached by the UK following Brexit will take effect. Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has called the agreements a “historic moment.”
The pact will not, however, assist Scottish producers, according to Mairi Gougeon, the rural affairs secretary from north of the border, who also lamented that “frustratingly” the Scottish Government was not involved in its execution.
“The UK Government’s approach to Brexit continues to undermine devolution and reneges on promises made ahead of the EU referendum,” she said in a statement.
“Going forward it is imperative that UK ministers work constructively with ministers from the devolved governments and industry to ensure that our agri-food producers are better protected in future trade deals.”
The Scottish Government has consistently criticized the UK Government’s conduct of trade agreements, particularly Brexit, and has expressed concern about the effects on Scotland’s farmers.
“These trade deals are not good enough for Scotland’s producers – they have been rushed through and the UK Government’s own economic modelling shows that the agri-food sector will lose out,” Ms Gougeon said.
“These agreements will provide Australian and New Zealand exporters with unfettered access to the UK market, which could allow an influx of goods, often produced to lower cost and regulatory standards, and which could undercut our domestic agri-food producers.
“By contrast, the EU has secured advantageous terms for the agri-food sector in their trade deal with New Zealand, securing more protective tariff rate quotas and coverage from day one, of over 2,000 food and drink products from the EU Geographical Indicator scheme.”
Speaking ahead of the trade deals coming into effect, Ms Badenoch said: “Today is a historic moment as our first trade deals to be negotiated post-Brexit come into effect.
“Businesses up and down the country will now be able to reap the rewards of our status as an independent trading nation and seize new opportunities, driving economic growth, innovation and higher wages.”
Two special consignments of British goods, including issues of the Beano, will be shipped to Australia and New Zealand to commemorate the beginning of the agreements.