Commenting on figures showing that exports of Scottish fish and shellfish were down by 83% in January this year, Seafood Scotland chief executive Donna Fordyce has said that February and March may be better, but will be nowhere near pre-Brexit levels.
She said that the January figures are a ‘stark reminder of the real struggle businesses, workers and fishing communities have faced, along with the losses, delays and extra costs they still incur on a daily basis.’
According to Donna Fordyce, Seafood Scotland has been asking for months for a grace period.
‘This is why we, and rest of the export food sector, are baffled by the UK government’s latest move to extend to the EU a 12-month grace period for frictionless trade with the UK. The move is a punch in the gut for all the hard-working seafood businesses that are on a knife-edge.’
She points out that this creates a one-way border that chokes UK exporters, but welcomes EU imports.
‘Until 2022, importers from the EU can enjoy the benefits of lower costs and more reliable trade with the UK, while Scottish companies that want to export are still tearing their hair out trying to make it happen,’ Donna Fordyce said.
‘If our exporters want to try to sell their products in the UK instead, they now also find that the UK government has just served up a huge helping of European competition, free of financial burden.’
Seafood Scotland chief executive Donna Fordyce. Image: Seafood Scotland