Following reports that the UK may have to revert to World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs, Alyn Smith MEP has written to David Davis seeking urgent clarification on what – if any – arrangements have been made to protect Scotland’s agriculture industry.
Currently 38% of all UK lamb is exported to the EU and it has been reported that this could face tariffs as high as 40% under WTO rules.
Davis, the current Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, has admitted that there is a possibility that the UK may find itself outside of the EU with no trade deal. Davis has previously been rebuked by Downing Street for declaring it was “improbable” that the UK would remain in the single market.
Alyn, Scotland’s sole voice on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said:
“The sheer arrogance of the Leave campaign is matched only by their incompetence. When the Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, made it very clear that there would be no Single Market membership without freedom of movement, Mr Davis simply shrugged and said such a comment “is not new.”
"Where is the contingency plan? What will he do to protect Scotland’s agricultural export industry?
“I’ve written to him seeking urgent clarification on his comments in light of the potentially high WTO tariffs, and will continue to monitor the situation closely.
Sybil MacPherson of the National Sheep Association (NSA) added:
“NSA Scotland is acutely aware that the trade deals that will be struck post Brexit will have a crucial impact on what the future holds for our members. The UK produces far more lamb than it consumes, therefore our product must be exported onto the world market at a price that can sustain our producer's livelihoods.
“Any barriers to trade with the EU or the rest of the world could impact severely on our members.
“We would hope that every effort will be made to reduce the probability of our member's trade being disadvantaged by the decision to leave the EU. Alyn Smith has supported the UK's sheep farmers in the past and we look forward to working along with him over the next few years to ensure the best outcome possible for our members here in Scotland and the rest of the UK.”
Alyn's letter can be read here.