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Moray's MSP Richard Lochhead challenges UK-Australia trade deal

By Alistair Whitfield

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Moray's MSP has claimed that the Conservative government is "setting up another sell-out of Scotland’s key industries".

Richard Lochhead has spoken today after 14 Scottish food and drink industry leaders signed an open letter to Liz Truss, the UK Trade Secretary, raising concerns over a potential free trade deal with Australia.

In their joint letter the 14 signatories warn that the pace of negotiations over the deal is "too quick" and is "denying the opportunity for appropriate scrutiny and consultation".

The letter goes on to say that "any trade deal which does not prioritise the maintenance of our standards of animal welfare and environmental protection would be detrimental to businesses, consumers and the UK's reputation."

Commenting, Mr Lochhead said: "The warnings are clear that if the Tory Government ploughs ahead with this proposed trade deal, without scrutiny and due process, then they’ll be inflicting serious damage on the farmers and food producers that are absolutely vital to Moray’s economy.

"Brexit has already cost our economy billions of pounds and this trade deal would deliver another devastating blow to Moray’s farmers, given that protecting high animal welfare standards doesn’t appear to be a priority for UK Ministers.

"Many local producers will be seriously concerned that they won’t be able to compete if cheaper imports produced at a much lower standard are allowed into the country tariff-free.

"Agriculture and food production are an essential part of Moray’s economy.

"Right now local producers need government backing.

"But instead the Tories are ignoring the industry as they negotiate this trade deal behind closed doors and are preparing to sell out our key industries once again.

"This joint letter from industry leaders should serve as an urgent wake up call to the UK Government."

The 14 signatories to the joint letter are:

  • James Withers, Chief Executive, Scotland Food & Drink
  • Scott Walker, Chief Executive, NFU Scotland
  • Alan Clarke, Chief Executive, Quality Meat Scotland
  • Jen Craig, Chair, National Sheep Association Scotland
  • Jimmy Buchan, Chief Executive, Scottish Seafood Association
  • Tim Bailey, Chief Executive, SAOS
  • Patrick Krause, Chief Executive, Scottish Crofting Federation
  • Alan McNaughton, President, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers
  • Martin Reid, Director for Scotland, Road Haulage Association
  • Colin Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Wholesalers Association
  • Neil Wilson, Executive Director, Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland
  • Andy McGowan, Managing Director, Scottish Pig Producers
  • Shelagh Hancock, Chief Executive, First Milk
  • Archie Gibson, Executive Director, Agrico UK

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