Nicola Sturgeon urged to act on exports

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to make sure Scotland has fast and efficient trading arrangements to get food exports to market as quickly as possible after Brexit.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: /AFP/Getty Images
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: /AFP/Getty Images

Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, made the plea at a roundtable summit on EU withdrawal hosted by the First Minister in Edinburgh.

Ms Hesketh-Laird took part in discussions with Ms Sturgeon, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and other representatives of food and drink industry, fisheries, port authorities, scientists, processors and environmentalists.

Scottish salmon is the UK’s biggest food exporter with export sales worth £600 million last year.

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“We must ensure the home business environment in Scotland is really supportive,” Ms Hesketh-Laird said.

“It is critical we have really efficient and fast trading arrangements. Infrastructure at home is really important so that we can get stuff from Scotland direct to our markets.”

Ms Hesketh-Laird said markets like China were vital to the industry and emphasised the need to get farmed salmon, which is perishable, on to freight aircraft quickly while on ice.

She added that the Scottish salmon sector was also crucial for hauliers and processors and other related activities.

Mr Ewing said the UK Government’s “lack of clarity” on how the food industry would be affected by Brexit was “putting the livelihoods of workers and communities at risk”.

Mr Ewing said: “With seafood exports to the EU worth £725m last year, the industry needs an assurance that it can continue to easily access EU markets.