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Reaction in Scotland’s Meat & Fish Sector to #Brexit Deal

Although it has to be agreed to by both the UK Parliament and by EU parliamentarians, the UK Government today, 24th of December reached a trade deal with the EU.

You can read details of the deal here: Agreements reached between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Union

This graphic gives a quick check list of changes

It provides for zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin. European Commission

Reacting to the agreement, for Quality Meat Scotland Alan Clarke, QMS Chief Executive said:

“Scotland has a strong, vibrant red meat sector, providing premium products both here in the UK and overseas, especially in EU markets. Brexit is an issue of vital importance to businesses in the industry and many companies, particularly in the sheepmeat sector, will be relieved that the transition period will conclude with a deal to avoid tariffs that could have made EU trade unaffordable while depressing prices at home. 

“Nonetheless, businesses trading with Europe after the New Year will still need to make sure they are prepared for adjustments in areas from certification to border control measures. They will look to government for clear guidance and support in the weeks and months ahead to help them adapt successfully to these new measures in the short term. 

“QMS remains committed to working with all of our industry partners and stakeholders to ensure that businesses have the tools and support required to face the challenges – with increasing confidence – that leaving the EU poses.” 

QMS is the public body responsible for promoting the PGI labelled Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb brands in the UK and abroad and also promoting Scottish pork products under the Specially Selected Pork logo.

The EU and the UK agreed on a new framework for the joint management of fish stocks in EU and UK waters. The UK will be able to further develop British fishing activities, while the activities and livelihoods of European fishing communities will be safeguarded, and natural resources preserved. European Commission

Seafish which supports the fishing sector commented that the ‘deal’ was “a welcome relief for the seafood sector if it makes trade flows easier but uncertainty remains on fishing rights.”

Aoife Martin, Director of Operations at Seafish, said:

“The EU is our closest trading partner – 75% of our seafood exports went to the EU last year – so agreeing a trade deal is important for the future of our seafood sector in the UK.

“As the public body supporting the seafood sector in the UK to thrive, Seafish has been at the heart of understanding the complexities of Brexit since the referendum result in 2016. Over the last four years, we have supported the seafood industry to prepare for a no deal outcome. This was likely to make trade difficult and costly so we’re glad to see a deal that should make trade flow easier.

“However, this agreement is unlikely to remove the need for customs formalities so seafood businesses should continue to prepare for increased paperwork and checks. 

The big trade headlines today for seafood businesses are:

  • Considerable easing of tariff requirements for seafood imported from and exported to the EU. There will be zero tariffs for the UK but businesses will need to meet rules of origin requirements. Rules of origin relate to where goods (and their ingredients) originate from and will determine if products can take advantage of zero tariffs. The exact detail of how the rules of origin will apply is still unclear at the moment.
  • Food safety checks will remain the same as expected under no deal preparations so businesses should still prepare for changes to the veterinary checks required to trade with the EU.

“Fishing rights have been the biggest sticking point in these negotiations and whilst fishing feels insignificant to some people, it is the heart and soul of the communities around our coast that depend on it.

“We know that there will be a significant uplift in quota for the UK fleet, equal to 25% of the value of EU catch in UK waters, to be allocated over five and a half years. This will be negotiated again once the agreed period comes to an end. It’s not yet clear what species are included in the allocation and whether they are all commercially important to the UK fleet.

“It’s also unclear what rights EU vessels have within the 6-12 mile zone in the waters around the UK, but we expect that will become clearer in the coming days.

 “Despite today’s announcement, it’s important to remember that the deal still needs to be approved by the UK parliament and the EU. We expect we won’t see much of the detail until that happens at which point we can start to properly unpick it and explain what it means for the seafood businesses and organisations we support.”

It reflects the fact that the UK is leaving the EU’s ecosystem of common rules, supervision and enforcement mechanisms, and can therefore no longer enjoy the benefits of EU membership or the Single Market.  Nevertheless, the Agreement will by no means match the significant advantages that the UK enjoyed as a Member State of the EU. European Commission

The Withdrawal Agreement is still in place:

protecting amongst other things the rights of EU citizens and UK nationals, the EU’s financial interests, and crucially, peace and stability on the island of Ireland.

This is a Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The European Commission will apply the Agreement on a provisional basis, for a limited period of time until 28 February 2021. The European Parliament will then have to vote on it. The UK Parliament also has to pass it.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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