Concern over UK Government approach to US deal.
Ministers are calling on the UK Government to prioritise trade talks with the EU over the USA, and give Scotland a meaningful role in all stages of any future trade arrangements.
With the UK Government repeatedly not committing to an alignment with EU standards, Scotland’s Trade Minister Ivan McKee said there is now a real danger that in prioritising US trade talks standards will be lowered even further.
While no trade outcome can match the benefits to Scotland of EU membership, the Scottish Government has identified the following key areas of concern for the talks ahead:
- protecting our public services
- protecting our environment and positively contributing to achieving our net zero target
- as a minimum, maintaining alignment with EU standards
- building a fairer society, reducing inequality and improving economic wellbeing through inclusive economic growth
- being a good global citizen and helping to raise standards through trade
Mr McKee said:
“EU membership is the best outcome for Scotland and we believe that EU standards on labour, data, food standards and product safety are world-leading and simply cannot be replicated through any other form of trading relationship.
“The proposed UK Government approach, prioritising a trade deal with the US over the EU, presents a significant threat to the Scottish economy, our interests and priorities. The EU’s standards both protect consumers and drive trade. Furthermore, the UK should not begin trade talks with the US unless it removes its punitive tariffs on Scotch whisky and a range of other Scottish goods.
“The UK Government’s own analysis estimated that securing a free trade agreement with all English speaking countries, including the US, would only increase UK GDP by 0.2-0.4%. This does little to offset the impact of leaving the EU Single Market which Scottish Government analysis showed would lower GDP by 6.1% by 2030.
“It is essential the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament have a proper and meaningful role in all stages of the development of future trade arrangements, which shape the nature of our economy. In the meantime, the Scottish Government will use its devolved powers to maintain, as far as it is able, the closest possible ties with the EU, while working towards independence.”
This week the Scottish Government announced that a new Continuity Bill will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament which will make it easier to align with future EU standards in areas such as the environment and human rights. Steps will also be taken to protect vulnerable exports such as seafood and red meat, press for continued participation in EU research and student programmes and seek replacements for security initiatives including the EU arrest warrant.
Last week’s State of the Economy report found Brexit uncertainty resulted in significantly lower growth for the Scottish economy in 2019.