SWA join PM warning of “catastrophic” no deal

The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) has joined 10 0ther organisations north of the border to make a desperate plea for the government to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

SWA is one of the group – including the lines of NFU Scotland, Scotland Food & Drink and Scottish Seafood Association – warning of the “perilous situation” facing the food and drink industry if the UK ends 2020 without a trade deal with the European Union.

With 70% of Scotland’s food exports going to the EU, the impact of a significant and costly change to trading conditions is clear to see.

And SWA Chief Executive Colin Smith was keen to ensure the letter stated that distributors were included within the businesses asked to be given a financial compensation package if they encounter losses as a direct result of border or market disruption.

The letter reads: “The end of the transition period and ever-increasing uncertainty on the terms of our new trading arrangement with the EU compounds these concerns. The EU is the destination of 70% of our food exports. It is also the largest market for Scotch whisky. Indeed, our food and drink exports are four times more important to the Scottish economy than to the English economy.

“Tariffs, border disruption for high-value perishable goods, and certification costs are all far greater threats for the food and drink sector than they are for other sectors in the economy. And our food producers are extremely reliant on labour from the EU, such as the North East where over 70% of the workforce in seafood processing are EU nationals.

“So, what we do in the next 60 days is critical to the survival of many food, drink, farming, fishing and seafood businesses, and the supply chain and jobs they support.”

The letter goes on to point out that this sort of blow – on the back of an unrivalled year of struggle due to Covid-19 – would be “catastrophic” for the Scottish food and drink sector.

Support measures have been made available for hospitality businesses in Scotland over recent months, with wholesalers also eligible for hardship grants.

The other organisations to sign the letter sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson included Food and Drink Federation Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland, Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, Scottish Bakers, Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation and Seafood Scotland.

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