Westminster trumpets export benefits of Union

Whisky is one of Scotland's key exports. Picture: PA
Whisky is one of Scotland's key exports. Picture: PA
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SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: THE Westminster Government brokered £179 million of international trade deals for Scotland’s food and drinks industry last year, the UK Environment Secretary has said.

In a bid to convince Scots of the benefits of remaining part of the UK, Owen Paterson said the British Government has opened more than 150 new markets for products such as Scottish beef, salmon and whisky.

The Scottish Government says independence would be better for UK exports as it will give them a direct voice in the European Union, and a bigger share of EU cash.

UK exports to countries outside the EU grew by £179 million to £1.35 billion from 112 new markets in 2013, with a further 50 new markets opened in 2014 to date, Mr Paterson said.

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Export markets for Scottish food and drink are now worth £6.2 billion and support 360,000 jobs, he added.

Export highlights include £100 million of beef and lamb to Russia, £10 million of beef to Singapore and Niger, £60 million of beef to China, and protection of Scotch whisky brands from fakes in China, India and Australia.

Mr Paterson will meet exporters at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh today.

He said: “The trade deals the UK Government has been able to secure have brought huge benefits to Scotland.

“It means Scotland’s world-class produce now has a worldwide market, creating jobs and growth as part of the Government’s long term economic plan.

“We’ll continue to use the UK’s substantial influence to open up more trade routes across the globe, bringing even more business to Scotland.”

A spokesman for Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Independence will give Scotland’s rural communities a massive boost, because for the first time ever we will have a seat and a voice at the top table in Europe when funding is being discussed, and as an independent member Scotland will be entitled to a far bigger share of EU cash than we receive at present.

“Independence will also give Scotland’s world class food and drink a huge boost by enhancing the nation’s global profile and ensuring there is more focus than ever on our iconic brands and premium products.”