A row over the Northern Ireland Protocol could cause a trade war with the EU, fears Salmon Scotland. Photo: Institute of Export and International Trade.

Don’t start a trade war with EU, Salmon Scotland tells Westminster

Salmon Scotland has raised fears that a trade war with the European Union could have a devastating impact on Britain’s export market.

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UK Government ministers are reportedly seeking to urgently amend the Northern Ireland Protocol, the part of the Brexit agreement designed to prevent the return of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland, which is a member of the EU, and Northern Ireland.

The potential amendment has sparked concerns of retaliatory action by the EU.

Scottish salmon is the UK’s biggest fresh food export, with sales of £372 million to EU countries accounting for 61% of global Scottish salmon exports last year.

Tavish Scott: "The wider interests of all exporters to continental Europe are not being considered."

Exporters ignored

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, which represents salmon farmers and the supply chain, said: “As the political rhetoric ramps up, the wider interests of all exporters to continental Europe are not being considered. A trade war should be avoided at all costs.

“Like many sectors, our members have spent months addressing the challenges of Brexit, including the extra paperwork required. That hard work by Scottish farmers must not be jeopardised.

“As demand for our world-renowned Scottish salmon continues to soar, we urge the UK Government to navigate a way through this that doesn’t harm vital trade deals.”

Assembly boycott

According to a report by the BBC, the Protocol is under fresh scrutiny following elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The elections cemented a majority for assembly members who accept the Protocol, including the new largest party, the republican party Sinn Féin.

But the second largest party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said it would not nominate ministers to form a new executive in Northern Ireland until its concerns with the Protocol were resolved.

Single market

The Protocol works by keeping Northern Ireland inside the EU’s single market for goods, something that has entailed new checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

The UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Tuesday that her preference had always been for a negotiated solution but that she would not shy away from “taking action to stabilise the situation in Northern Ireland if solutions cannot be found”.