Scottish food chief warns that export certification system would 'collapse' in no-deal Brexit

The value of Scottish food and drink exports reached a record high this year.
The value of Scottish food and drink exports reached a record high this year.
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The head of Scotland Food and Drink has warned that the system to certify Scottish food exports for shipping to other countries would "collapse" in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Chief executive James Withers warned that while Scotland currently issues 15,000 health certificates for export of animal products every year, it is set to rise to 100,000 after Britain leaves the European Union.

Scottish food and drink exports reached a record high of £6.3 billion earlier this year. The health certificates, administered by local authorities, apply to all products of animal origin - with seafood and exports of red meat such as venison most likely to be affected in Scotland.

Mr Withers said: "Scotland currently issues approx 15,000 export health certificates a year. After Brexit, it’s estimated this could rise to over 100,000. Aside from huge cost & hassle, there aren’t enough local authority staff to cope. High likelihood the system would collapse on 1 November."

He added: "Important to add, that is the scenario in a No Deal. If a deal was secured, with a transition period, it would at least buy some time to build a new system to try and cope with the UK being treated by the EU as a third country exporter."

Mr Withers' comments come as the UK Government announced it has secured approval to continue exporting animals and animal products to the EU if the UK leaves without a deal on 31 October.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers confirmed that EU member states have granted the UK ‘national listed status’, which ensures exports of live animals and products of animal origin, such as meat, fish and dairy, can continue.

However, it said that Export Health Certificates - which will need to be signed by a certifier such as an official veterinarian - would still be required.

Environment Secretary, Theresa Villiers, said: "This is good news for UK businesses. It demonstrates our very high standards of biosecurity and animal health which we will continue to maintain and improve after we leave the EU. If you or your business import or export animal and animal products, we want to make sure you are ready for Brexit."