Scottish Ministers voice concern about agricultural policy in US trade deals
A letter addressed to the UK Government voicing the Scottish Government’s concern over a US trade deal has been written by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon and Trade Minister Richard Lochhead.
The letter stressed the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Scottish agriculture sector, and focused on Government collaboration to ensure a transparent decision-making system.
This comes amid media reports of a US trade deal that would see “lower quality meat” imported to the UK.
In the letter, which was posted on WiredGov, the Ministers said: “The Scottish Government recognises the benefits to trade and investment of building relationships with United States and this is reflected in Scotland’s Vision for Trade, as well as our plan for growing Scotland’s exports, a Trading Nation, where the US is identified as Scotland’s number one priority market.
“As a result, we have made clear the value we see in the Department for Business and Trade’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) programme with US States, and we have engaged constructively so that Scotland might maximise any benefits that these state-level agreements offer.
“For example, the UK and Washington State MoU on trade cooperation, innovation, and clean energy, which the Minister for International Trade recently shared with us, is the most recent illustration of this close working relationship that our Governments have worked hard to establish.
The letter went on to say: “Any relaxing of our opposition to hormone treated beef, GM crops and chlorine washed chicken would be especially egregious when the red meat sector in particular is already facing substantial threat from the trade arrangements reached with Australia and New Zealand and in light of consumer opposition in Scotland to the use of such treatments.
“We would find this completely unacceptable. The UK Government should not be trading away the interests of Scottish agriculture, and other sectors, in order to secure a quick deal with the US, or any country.
“If the Prime Minister’s commitment made to farmers earlier this year is to be honoured, we would not expect to see any concessions like this in agriculture.
“I ask that you and your officials now commit to involving Scottish Ministers and officials fully with regard to the UK Government’s plans for improving trading conditions with the United States going forward, and so that the veracity of any media reports can be gauged without creating undue concern between our administrations.”
Independently, Gougeon stated: “The interests of Scottish agriculture, and other sectors, must not be traded away in order to secure a quick deal with the US, or any country.”